Bottom line: God can give a glimpse of the mystery of Jesus - and the human person.
On the Second Sunday of Lent we always read a Gospel account of the Transfiguration. It reminds us that we only see a tiny part of the mystery of Jesus - or, for that matter, the mystery of another human being.
To illustrate this, I would like to share a story told by Dr. Peggy Hartshorn, president of Heartbeat International - a dramatic story about a woman who saw the mystery of her unborn child:
The pregnancy was unplanned and the woman wanted to end it, but she agreed to an ultra-sound. She saw on the screen the outline of her baby - a perfectly formed body with tiny arms and legs. Dr. Hartshorn said that 75% of women see an ultra-sound decide to keep their baby - but 25% do not. It seemed like the woman would be in that 25% because she kept saying, "No, no, I cannot have the baby."
All of a sudden the assistant said, "Reach out and take your baby's hand." Dr. Hartshorn was annoyed at her assistant for saying something so strange. But the woman extended her hand toward the monitor. As if by a divine cue, the baby moved his arm. On the screen his tiny hand touched his mom's fingers.
She kept her baby.
That woman glimpsed the mystery of her unborn child. There is a mystery inside each one of us - the mystery of the image of God. How beautiful it is when we glimpse the divine reflection in another person. Maybe we had looked at that other as an inconvenience, even a nuisance. But then God showed us something marvelous about the other.
We certainly see that in today's Gospel. Jesus was taking the apostles to Jerusalem, where he would become an object of shame they would run away from. On the way, however, he lead them up a high mountain and, as St. Mark says, "he was transfigured before them and his clothes became dazzling white." They saw a glimpse, a tiny glimpse, of who Jesus was. That would sustain them through some dark moments.
Now, God can reveal himself instantly as with the Transfiguration of Jesus - or the ultrasound of that tiny baby. But we need to prepare our hearts. Jesus had spent long months teaching and conversing with the disciples, especially Peter, James and John. Only then did he give them this glimpse of his inner reality. Likewise, we need time with Jesus - by praying and studying his Word - to open ourselves to who He is.
This Sunday we will have some help. At the end of Mass, you will hear a testimony inviting you to study the Bible. We have a program to read the Bible and Catechism in one year.* And we have an in-depth program called Catholic Bible Study that devotes an entire year to a single book. This year, for example, we are studying Genesis.
Set aside time to pray and study God's word. Open your heart to God. He can give a glimpse of the mystery of Jesus - and the human person. Like Peter we will say, "It is good that we are here!"
*The program will require a half hour to forty-five minutes a day. I suggest first getting an overview of the three readings each day, then focus on a verse that resonates and use it for some more intense minutes of prayer. Sometimes it might be a line from the Catechism that most inspires prayer.
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Homilies for Second Sunday of Lent ("Transfiguration Sunday")
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