The Power and Glory of the Cross
Each year on the Second Sunday of Lent, we hear one of the Gospel accounts of the Transfiguration. This year we hear Matthew’s (17:1-9). Our Lord had taken Peter, James and John up Mount Tabor, and there they saw Him in His glorified humanity for just a brief time. Peter was so enthralled by the beauty of the vision that he wanted to stay there with JESUS and the two Old Testament Prophets, Moses and Elijah. “His face shone like the sun and His clothes became as white as the light.” Peter and the two other disciples soon realised, however, that this vision was transitory, and that Our Lord would have to undergo His Passion before His humanity was to be permanently glorified.
The Preface of today’s Mass summarises beautifully this great event. “For after He had told the disciples of His coming Death, on the holy mountain He manifested to them His glory, to show, even by the testimony of the Law and the Prophets, that the Passion leads to the glory of the Resurrection.” The Passion leads to the glory of the Resurrection. This is what Our Lord was trying to teach them. Their faith would be tested to breaking point as they witnessed Him undergoing the most terrible tortures and then being put to death by crucifixion, the most gruesome form of Roman execution. Our faith is also tested when we have to face crosses. Many of us, like Peter, want to run away from them. Few go all the way to Calvary and stand there identifying with Christ to the end as John did. So hearing an account of the Transfiguration each year during Lent is meant to remind us that we must climb the mountain with Our Lord if we wish to attain that glory with Him, the glory for which we were created. Through our own crosses and struggles offered in union with His, the fasting, the penances and mortifications we perform during Lent, these make us heirs to the promise to eternal life and heavenly glory. So stand firm in your faith. As St Paul says in today’s Second Reading, “Bear the hardships for the sake of the Good News” (Timothy 1:8-10).
Sometimes we only learn lessons through pain and failure. Often we only learn the value of things when we lose them. And even now in this life, we can see the fruit of our crosses in that we have become better and stronger people. You have probably discovered gifts and abilities you never knew you had.
Finally, the majority today tend to make light of sin. This Lent, let us look upon the Crucifix and meditate on it, with Our Lord’s head crowned with thorns, His lips parched with thirst, His body covered with dirt and spittle, His flesh torn from the scourges, and His hands and feet nailed to the Cross. This is how seriously God takes sin. This is what it cost Him to redeem us. May a spirit of atonement pervade us in the crosses and trials of our lives, so that one day we may experience the glory of the Resurrection.
Fr Paul Gillham, IC