Sunday, March 08, 2009

Second Sunday of Lent B 2009

Transfiguration: To Pray is To Give Off Light

St. Leo the Great on the Transfiguration (Office of Readings):

“The Lord reveals his glory in the presence of chosen witnesses. His body is like that of the rest of mankind, but he makes it shine with such splendor that his face becomes like the sun in glory, and his garments as white as snow.

“The great reason for this transfiguration was to remove the scandal of the cross from the hearts of his disciples, and to prenvent the humiliation of his voluntary suffering from disturbing the faith of those who had witnessed the surpassing glory that lay concealed.

“With no less forethought he was also providing a firm foundation for the hope of holy Church. The whole body of Christ was to understand the kind of transformation that it would receive as his gift. The members of that body were to look forward to a share in that glory which first blazed out in Christ their head."

The Union of the Old and New Testaments:

Moses, Elijah and Christ: The Ten Commandments (Moses), the last testifier of the faith in Israel (Elijah) at the time of Ahab-Jezebel, and the Word of God (Jesus) are revealed conversing about the Passion that is about to take place.

Benedict XVI writes: “Moses and Elijah appear and talk with Jesus. What the Risen Lord will later explain to the disciples on the road to Emmaus is seen here in visible form. The Law and the Prophets speak with Jesus; they speak of Jesus. Only Luke tells us (…) what God’s two great witnesses were talking about with Jesus: they ‘appeared in glory and spoke of his departure (his exodus), which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem’ (Lk. 9, 31). Their topic of conversation is the Cross, but understood in an inclusive sense as Jesus’ Exodus, which had to take place in Jerusalem. Jesus’ Cross is an Exodus: a departure from this life, a passage through the ‘Red Sea’ of the Passion, and a transition into glory – a glory, however, that forever bears the mark of Jesus’ wounds.”[1]

Transfiguration: Prayer as Self-Gift is the Act of Radiating Light: the Basis of the Apostolate

From “Behold the Pierced One: “As He was praying…” [to be = to be-in-relation].

“In the Gospels, ‘the mountain’ is always the realm of prayer, of being with the Father. It was to this ‘mountain’ that Jesus had taken the Three who formed the core of the community of the Twelve: Peter, James and John. ‘As he was praying, the appearance of his countenance was altered,’ Luke tells us (9, 29). Thus he makes it plain that the Transfiguration only renders visible what is actually taking place in Jesus’ prayer: he is sharing in God’s radiance and hence in the manner in which the true meaning of the Old Testament – and of all history – is being made visible, i.e., revelation. Jesus’ proclamation proceeds from this participation in God’s radiance, God’s glory, which also involves a seeing with the eyes of God – and therefore the unfolding of what was hidden. So Luke also shows the uity of revelation and prayer in the person of Jesus: both are rooted in the mystery of Sonship. Furthermore, according to the Evangelists, the Transfiguration is a kind of anticipation of Resurrection and Parousia (cf. Mk. 9, 1). For his communication with the Father, which becomes visible in his prayer in the Transfiguration, is the true reason why Jesus could not remain in death and why al history is in his hands. He whom the Father addresses is the Son (cf. Jn. 10, 33). But the Son cannot die. [Except as He wills: JHN]. Thus Luke suggests that the whole of Christology- our speaking of Christ – is nothing other than the interpretation of his prayer: the entire person of Jesus is contained in his prayer.”[2]

Necessity of Contemplative Life:
"Something else also contributes greatly to the growth of our prayer life - namely , the effort to face every circumstance with an attitude of total abandonment and powerful trust in God, to live in the present moment without fretting about tomorrow's cares, to do everything we do peacefully, without worrying about what comes next. It isn't easy, but if we put our hearts into it, the effort will bear fruit.
"It is also very important little by little to learn to live out every part of our lives under God's eyes, in his presence and in a sort of ongoing dialogue with him, recalling him as often as possible in the middle of our occupations and keeping him company in all we do. The more we try to do this, the easirer mental prayer will become. (It's easier to find God in times of prayer if we have never left him!). Thus the practice of mental prayer should lead to continual prayer, not necessarily explicit, verbal prayer, but rather a constant awareness of God's presence. Living under God's gaze like that will set us free. Too often, when we feel other people's eyes on us, it is because we fear their judgment or crave their admiration; and if we are always watching ourselves, that may be complacency at work - or guilt. But in learning to live under God's merciful, loving gaze, we find only inner freedom" (Jacques Philippe, "Time for God," Scepter (2008) 40-41.

[1] Benedict XVI “Jesus of Nazareth,” Doubleday (2007) 311.
[2] J. Ratzinger, “Behold the Pierced One,” Ignatius (1986) 19-20.

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