“And [Jesus] was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.”
- Matthew 17: 2
In this second Sunday of Lent, we hear Matthew’s account of Jesus’s transfiguration in front of Peter, James, and John. Alone with them on a high mountain, Jesus’s appearance is transformed into a picture of his heavenly glory.
The disciples are taken aback. They are overcome with fear when God’s voice rings out from a cloud. As they cower on the ground, Jesus tells them, “Rise, and do not be afraid.”
The Old Testament also includes examples of individuals being exposed to God’s glory and feeling overwhelmed and even afraid. Spiritual writers throughout the ages have commented on the intensity of exeriences of God’s glory. However, God gives us moments of “transfiguration,” or glimpses of heavenly beauty and goodness, which can surprise, shock, and challenge us to think outside of our present realities and recommit to building God’s kingdom.
In the face of the scale of the climate crisis, and the depth of the brokenness of our collective relationship with the earth, it can feel impossible to imagine the renewal of God’s people and earth. But small transfiguration moments along the way are gifts from God which reveal the power of God transform even the darkest of situations.
For example, the world is facing a crisis of clean water. Egregious waste and pollution of fresh water along with increasing drought conditions in many parts of the world are leading to a severe shortage of usable water for many countries. Poor people in some regions experience the brunt of the problem.
Returned Lay Missioner Gerry Lee describes a moment when his community’s water shortage in Venezuela was transformed before his eyes: “In our first Christmas in the barrio we had no water for over three weeks and families were desperate. Water finally came a few days before Christmas, in the middle of the night: We were woken up by shouts of joy and the sound of water gushing out of the communal spigot on our terrace…Our barrio came together that night to make sure every household got the water they needed. Teenagers were carrying buckets of water up to elderly neighbors living on the fourth floor of the housing project. Mothers started making arepas, the Venezuelan cornbread, for breakfast for all the workers. Everyone got wet and got happy. What a lesson of solidarity in the face of hardship it was for our family!”
This joyful moment of solidarity in the face of fear and depravation likely carried the community through future hardships. In our experiences of transfiguration, we can hear God’s voice saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid,” inviting us to carry on in our journeys of conversion and transformation.
Questions for Reflection
What “transfiguration” experiences have you had?
What comes to mind when you envision God’s renewal of the earth?
Most High, all-powerful, all-good Lord, All praise is Yours, all glory, all honour and all blessings.
To you alone, Most High, do they belong, and no mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your Name.
Praised be You my Lord with all Your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour,
Of You Most High, he bears the likeness.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
In the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air, and fair and stormy, all weather’s moods,
by which You cherish all that You have made.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
So useful, humble, precious and pure.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.
Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister,
Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us,
producing varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs.
Praised be You, my Lord. through those who grant pardon for love of You and bear sickness and trial.
Blessed are those who endure in peace, By You, Most High, they will be crowned.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Death,
from whom no-one living can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Blessed are they She finds doing Your Will.
No second death can do them harm. Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks,
And serve Him with great humility.
- St. Francis of Assisi, Canticle of the Creatures
Consider the ways in which you can conserve the precious resource of water in your daily life. Best practices for conserving water can be found here:
March 22 is World Water Day.
1) Learn about the sacred role of water for all life: http://bit.ly/MaryknollWater
2) Find resources for taking action on March 22: http://www.worldwaterday.org/
3) Watch “The Story of Bottled Water”: http://bit.ly/StoryBottled
Maryknoll Missioner Experience
“From the day I arrived in Nepal, I knew the importance of the Bagmati River…the river swelled with seasonal rains my first two years there. Then the stench [of pollution] was no longer flushed with flowing waters. The days of watching people perched on rocks to fish were no more. Remembering the river alone won’t cover these stones again or feed the hungry at the shore…How do we look and see as God sees? How do we look through the eyes of Jesus?”
- Sister Janet Hockman
Second Sunday of Lent: Top image of mountain range in the public domain and available at http://bit.ly/highlandmountain. Image of the Bagmati river licensed in the creative commons 2.0 from Wikicommons: http://bit.ly/Bagmatiriver