After the stark reading about the temptations of Jesus in last Sunday’s gospel we hear the gospel of the Transfiguration on the second Sunday of Lent. The story, found in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, is an extraordinary one, narrating a mysterious event which deeply struck the disciples. Jesus is seen transformed by three of his disciples.
His face is changed and he wears brilliant clothing, which suggests the life of the resurrection. Moses and Elijah are with him. These two great figures from the Scriptures were believed, after many trials, to have been taken to the presence of God. No burial-place of Moses was ever found. Elijah, it was believed, had been taken up to heaven in a chariot. Luke says that they speak with Jesus of his ‘passing’ or ‘exodus’, his leaving this world to return to the Father, that journey through suffering and death which they too have known. It is as if they provide encouragement as Jesus begins his journey to Jerusalem and to death.
The story of the Transfiguration is very elaborate. We read it in Lent both to focus on the triumph of Jesus beyond the cross, and to hear again the words: This is my Son, the Chosen One. Listen to him! Above all it invites us to accompany Jesus as he journeys through death to the life of the resurrection, a life which God prepares for us too, a life we can scarcely imagine.