Second Sunday of Lent
Sunday, February 28, 2021
Reflection by John Wilcox
This Gospel on the Transfiguration directs my thinking toward our resurrection after our deaths. Jesus’ clothes become dazzlingly white, brighter than any earthly bleach could make them. To imagine this, I picture Jesus’ body being a source of light shining underneath through his clothes. This image can help us think about the kind of change for which we wait in hope.
How does the Transfiguration relate to Lent? The Church gives us two major themes for Lent: the need to repent and baptismal renewal. The kind of change presented by the Transfiguration fits very neatly into the second theme of baptismal renewal. At Baptism we are changed and made new, and the Transfiguration points toward our resurrection and indicates also a radical change in our being.
The Transfiguration also can remind us of the first theme of Lent, the theme of repentance. We repent during Lent because we are looking forward to the resurrection, and we cannot be fully renewed or transfigured without repentance, without in some way acknowledging and trying to discard some of our old habits.
Throughout the ages when people have tried to think about higher realities they often use the metaphor of light. We associate knowledge in the mind with intellectual light. In the Transfiguration it is not just Jesus’ mind or soul that is represented as becoming light, but his very body. What could be better for us in our bodies than to become as light-filled as this? This is a light for our bodies and souls that is higher than the kind of natural physical being that limits us now.
The Transfiguration points to the very reason why I remain a Catholic Christian. It points to something more than a program to make this world a better place, morally, politically, and socially. Of course, we should try to make the world better in these ways here and now, but I believe God loves us for a purpose beyond that. As we pray throughout Lent, let us keep in mind that the reason the Church gives us this Gospel reading on the Transfiguration is to help us understand that when we repent, we also look forward to becoming transformed into a new being.