As we journey through Lent, our focus and hope in on the Paschal Mystery. We devoutly await and penitentially prepare to celebrate the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In this spirit, Pope Francis has called Lent “a favorable time to prepare to celebrate with renewed hearts the great mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus, the cornerstone of our personal and communal Christian life.”
The Holy Father continues with the exhortation: “We must continually return to this mystery in mind and heart, for it will continue to grow within us in the measure that we are open to its spiritual power and respond with freedom and generosity.”
As a help to our Lenten observance, therefore, every second Sunday of the sacred season, the Church gives us the account of the Lord’s Transfiguration. As recounted in the Gospel, the Lord ascends a mountain with Peter, James, and John. He chose to reveal a portion of his glory to them, as his clothes became dazzling white, “such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.”
As he was transfigured before them, Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. As such a singular conversation occurred, a cloud came and casted a shadow over them, and a voice declared, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
The Church gives us the Transfiguration to urge us on in our desire to celebrate and live the Resurrection.
We are reminded that in the Lord’s Resurrection, the darkness of our world has been scattered. We have been freed from the slavery of sin and hopelessness. The heaviness of this world has been deflated. In the Resurrection, we have hope, peace, and the promise of eternal glory.
In the Resurrection, we receive an infinite horizon. We are able to see God’s presence in the midst of our lives. We can see all things in the light of eternity. This new perspective can invigorate us to greater heights and more noble aspirations.
This is not mere wishful thinking, or a distanced dream, removed idealism, or raw escapism. The Resurrection is true and its power is tangible. Lent helps us to recall this reality and to take the measures necessary to dive more fully into the Resurrection.
In the Risen Christ, the peace of God, which is beyond all understanding, empowers us to enter the trenches of life with the sure knowledge that we are loved and have the strength to carry and conquer whatever the fallen world throws at us. Rather than relying on mythical “luck,” we have the total assurance of God’s love and fatherly care for us.
The Lord’s Resurrection came by way of his Passion and Death. After he rose from the dead, he showed us his pierced hands and side. He reveals to us the sufferings of his Passion. He offers us this inner disclosure of his sufferings as proof of his sincerity. He shows us that he too has suffered, that he conquered that suffering, and that he can empower us to do the same by the power of his grace.
The Resurrection was not cheaply won. The Lord brought it about by blood, sweat, and tears. And so, as he promises us peace and hope, he shows us the marks of his battle with the sin and evil. The Lord’s wounds are his credibility, and they shout the legitimacy of his message to each of our hearts. Only a person who has been in the darkness, and has overcome it, is competent to speak of peace. And only such a person who has suffered, and loved in such a way, is worthy of our trust.
By the wounds of the Lord Jesus, we are led out of the darkness of this world. As the prophets declare: by the Lord’s wounds, we are healed. By his wounds, and by the glory of his Resurrection, we are given peace.
This is the inheritance won by the Paschal Mystery. Lent helps us to deepen in our awareness of these promises of peace and hope, and to yearn for them with greater intensity.
Pope Francis reminds us: “Jesus’ Pasch is not a past event; rather, through the power of the Holy Spirit it is ever present.”
This Lent, our choice is clear. We can distract our ourselves with the busyness of this world, or observe a soft Lent of penances with no depth, or we can live a full and challenging Lent in the light of the Paschal Mystery and within the total array of the promises of the Risen Christ.
Follow Father Jeffrey Kirby on Twitter: @fatherkirby