Fr Brendan Byrne reflects on this weekend’s Gospel:
The second Lenten Sunday Gospel records the mysterious episode of the Transfiguration. In biblical imagery whiteness signals closeness to God. The three privileged disciples glimpse for a moment Jesus’ divinity unveiled.
Shortly before this episode he had made clear to them his destiny to suffer and be killed in Jerusalem (16:21). Peter protested at this. He could not square a destiny to suffer with knowledge of Jesus as Messiah and the Son of God’ (16:16 and 16:22-23).
Now the Father’s declaration from on high, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him!’ confirms with divine authority that these two truths must be held together: Jesus is God’s beloved Son and he is, as he has said, going to fulfill his messianic vocation in this unforeseen, costly way.
Peter had wanted to ‘hold’ the moment of glory (‘Let us build three tents …’). But there are to be no ‘short cuts’ of this kind to glory. The Messiah who came, ‘not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many’ (20:28), will enter into the pain and suffering of the world to heal it from within. Being God’s Beloved Son will not shield him from suffering but actually lead him, out of love, to enter into it more deeply.
It is with this deepened sense of his identity and mission that we are invited to continue with him our Lenten journey to Jerusalem.