“This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” (Lk 9:35)

by Shiu Lan

From the day Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus begins to clarify to his disciples that his mission is not earthly or political but one that entails suffering and death. It is then that he makes his first prediction about his passion and resurrection; he must suffer, be put to death and be raised to life after three days. Jesus’ prediction must have caused a shock among his disciples! Peter scorns it; nor do the others understand it any better than he (Ref. Lk 9:22, Mt 16:22, Ignatius Catholic Study Bible P125, CCC 554).

It is with this backdrop that the mysterious episode of Jesus' Transfiguration takes place. It happens about eight days after his prediction, when he goes to pray on a high mountain, taking with him Peter, James and John (Ref. Lk 9:28)

For a moment, Jesus discloses his divine glory, confirming Peter's confession that he is the Christ, the Son of the living God, before three witnesses that he himself chooses, Peter, James and John. When Jesus is praying, “[t]he appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white” (Lk 9:29). Moses and Elijah also appear in glory and give testimony that Jesus’ suffering will fulfill the Old Testament laws and prophecy about the Messiah. They “spoke of [Jesus’] exodus which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem” (Lk 9:30-31, Ref. ICSB P126). “Then from the cloud came a voice that said, "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!’" (Lk 9:35). The father’s voice, the chosen son and the cloud of the spirit manifest the presence of the Holy Trinity, whose appearance in the transfiguration shows that Christ's Passion is the will of the Father (ICSB P126, CCC 554-555).

We mere mortals could have our own transfiguration moment, too. St. Paul assures us in the second reading, “[Jesus] will transfigure our lowly body, making it like his own body, radiant in Glory” (Philippians 3:21).

While on our earthly journey, “our citizenship is in heaven” (Ref. Philippians 3:20, CCC 2796). Though we are in the flesh, we should not live according to the flesh for indulgence in earthly pleasures and worldly ways of thinking will hold us back from heaven. When our time on earth is done, Christ will complete his work of salvation in us when he transforms our frail and mortal bodies into glorious and immortal ones like his own (Ref. ICSB P 361). The resurrection is an experience that will happen to everyone, whether good or bad: "All the dead will rise, 'those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment'" (CCC 998).

In this Lenten week, let us remember St. Paul’s exhortation and follow his example to model his life after Christ, “be steadfast in the Lord” (Philippians 4:1, ICSB P361).