There is so much packed into the account of the Transfiguration I could probably have spoken 30 or 40 minutes this morning. (Don’t worry, I did not.) What is true is that the Transfiguration tells us all we need to know about Jesus. It helps us to cope with suffering and pain. It teaches us about the importance of prayer. Listen carefully to Jesus, and you will see more clearly the importance of this meeting of heaven and earth.
Every Second Sunday of Lent we hear an account of the Transfiguration. Why is this?
The Buddhist religion starts out with four great truths. And among the big lesson is this: While life is suffering, the cause of the suffering is desire, and the person on the path to Nirvana should detach from what they desire. In today’s reading from James, the idea of coveting, or desiring what is not good for us. But unlike Buddhism, we believe there is a desire that is good for us: the desire for God.
There are times when it is important for us to remember the goal. What is the purpose of our life? Aristotle suggested that determining what something is for was and important way to explain something. Saint Thomas Aquinas applied this idea to humans, suggesting that we were made for living in beatitude with God ultimately in the Beatific Vision.
Who do you say that I am? Jesus poses this question in today’s gospel. What answer do we give? And what are the implications for the answer we give? What is interesting to me is that while the question is posed in the gospel, it is answered in the first reading from James. It is important for us to believe that the presence of God resides in everyone, even those people we cast aside as not important. So, thinking of how it is that you treat people, what answer do you give to Jesus? What does believing in him, believing him to be the second person of the Blessed Trinity mean in terms of how you act?
We can find ourselves blaming God for many things. We can watch a loved one suffer with cancer, and despite our prayers, die. We can have a difficult situation, and despite our prayers have it not turn out so well. We can have a broken relationship, and despite our prayers, find it remains broken. Sometimes we blame God for these things, but in fact, God calls us to something better than we can see here. The gospel today challenges us to remember that God is the abundant giver of new life.