- Fr. John Jennings
Our Sacred Stories Transfiguration: Seeing with the Eyes of Faith
The Second Sunday of Lent each year takes us to an episode in the Gospels that is referred to as the transfiguration. Peter, James and John go up on a mountain (or a hill) with Jesus. There, Jesus is transfigured before them. This story appears in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. This year we hear Luke’s version. (Luke 9:28-36) What is this all about?
The story of the transfiguration is one of those Gospel accounts that recognizes Jesus’ relationship with the Father and the mission he has been given. It is an expression of how the disciples saw Jesus after the resurrection. The Gospel writers tell it at this point as a foreshadowing of the faith of the post-resurrection Christian communities. In short, it was seeing through the eyes of faith.
Christian faith calls us to see ourselves through the eyes of faith. At our baptism we are given the promise of eternal and risen life. At the same time we are called to be disciples of Jesus and to share the mission that Jesus had to build the Reign of God in the midst of our world.
As we listen to the Gospel story of the transfiguration we might note two elements of Luke’s account. First of all, we can notice Peter’s immediate response to the event. He wants to remain on that mountain. The experience is so satisfying that he does not want it to end. But it must, he and the other disciples have a mission. What the experience, what they see through the eyes of faith, is not just for them. They must share the Good News. This can only happen if they come down from the mountain with Jesus in order to build the Reign of God in the world.
The second element focuses their eyes of faith on Jesus himself. They must recognize the special relationship that Jesus has with the Father. They must see him as the Son, the chosen one. As they do this they then must listen to him. In listening, truly listening in faith, they will grasp the message of the Good News. It is a message of love and hope for all humanity and it is in sharing this that they will be disciples of Jesus.
These eyes of faith are our own. They allow us to do as the disciples were called to on that mountain. Like them we have a call to discipleship. With our eyes of faith we begin to see that we have a special relationship with Jesus and through Jesus to the Father. We are truly God’s People, the adopted daughters and sons of God, beloved and cherished by our God who is parent to us.
As God’s beloved people, we have a call to our world and all humanity. The Good News that we recognize through the eyes of faith is the message we take to our world. All humanity is seen as God’s holy people. All of our world is God’s sacred gift and we are called to cherish and care for this creation we have been given. As Jesus was transfigured to reveal the glory of God present to the disciples, so we are to reflect this same glory of God in ourselves and to see it in all creation.