Second Sunday of Lent

I remember seeing a movie called Mask which is based on a true story. A 16-year-old boy named Rocky Dennis had a rare disease that caused his skull and the bones of his face to grow larger than they should and as a result his face was terribly misshapen and disfigured. His grotesque appearance caused some people to shy away from him and others to laugh and make fun of him. Through it all Rocky never pitied himself nor gives way to anger. One day Rocky and some of his friends visited an amusement park. They went into a ‘house of mirrors’ and began to laugh at how distorted their bodies and faces looked. Suddenly Rocky saw something that startled him. One mirror distorted his misshapen face in such a way that it appeared normal and even strikingly handsome. For the first time Rocky’s friends saw him in a whole new way. They saw what a truly beautiful person he was. In today’s gospel of the transfiguration, Jesus’ disciples saw him in whole new way. For the first time they saw the glorious, beautiful son of God. This story of the transfiguration comes at a critical moment in Luke’s gospel, Jesus is meeting with growing opposition, and the disciples were saddened and depressed when they heard that he must continue onto Jerusalem to suffer and die on the cross. The transfiguration, which took place on Mount Tabor, is placed among the Lenten readings because it bears a similarity to the agony in the garden, which took place on the Mount of Olives. The agony in the garden and the transfiguration were witnessed by only three disciples: Peter, James, and John. And both events took place at night. In both instances the disciples fell asleep while Jesus remained awake praying. On Mount Tabor the three disciples saw Jesus in a moment of ecstasy, On the Mount of Olives they saw Jesus in a moment of agony. Mount Tabor and the Mount Olives reveal in striking contrast the humanity and the divinity of Jesus; the two events are inseparable sides of the same coin. Like Jesus we have a twofold dimension about us. Like Jesus on Mount Tabor, we too experience moments of ecstasy, we feel so close to God that we feel we can reach out and touch him. When this happens, we marvel at how beautiful life is, everything is positive, and we are very optimistic about the future. On the other hand, like Jesus on the Mount of Olives we also experience moments of agony. During these moments life is miserable, we doubt whether God really exists, we find it hard to lift our spirits, we feel depressed and demoralised. The story of the Transfiguration is meant to reassure us. An interesting point is that during the ecstasy on Mount Tabor and the agony on the Mount of Olives, Jesus prayed. If prayer was the way Jesus responded to these moments, then it should be the way we respond to them too. The story of the transfiguration gives us a glimpse of what the future holds for us believers. So long as we continue to listen to Jesus and follow him, all will be okay. Let’s close with a prayer: God, Our Father let us know moments of ecstasy like the one Jesus knew on Mount Tabor. When these moments come, let us do what Jesus did. Let us turn to you in prayer and let us hear you say to us, ‘You are my chosen child’. And Father, in the same way, when moments of agony come to us, as they did to Jesus on the Mount of Olives, let us do what Jesus did. Let us turn to you in prayer and let us feel the touch of your healing hand.