A special friendship LUKE 9:28–36
This second Sunday of Lent, today’s gospel presents the Transfiguration. Jesus took Peter, James and John with Him up the mountain. I am struck by this careful, specific selection of disciples. It is always a unique situation. God also made a specific choice of Abram.
The chosen disciples were privileged. Their choosing was made with special deliberation by Jesus. Like Abram in the first reading, they too were selected to experience the great and awesome presence of the Lord on the mountain.
Although these disciples had to grow in their trust in Jesus, they certainly came to a deeper understanding of their unique relationship with Jesus from that time onward. They were privileged to experience that He was more, much more than a gifted rabbi and healer.
Contemplating the Transfiguration, we recall various commentaries concerning its meaning as it reveals the divinity of Jesus and the fulfilment of God’s plan of salvation. However, I would like to reflect on one aspect of the Transfiguration that is also true and important.
For me, this is a most intimate moment between Jesus and the Father. It was a moment of divine revelation in which God’s plan and promise of glory for His people was exposed for the benefit of the disciples.
The choice Jesus made in terms of who among His disciples would go up the mountain with Him seems very significant. The truth is we don’t have any reason given by Jesus for His choice but we are assured that it certainly was not random; those who were chosen experienced an awesome encounter revealing God’s holy presence and the glory of Jesus as the Beloved of God.
It occurs to me that people do not usually expose their most intimate, inner selves to random persons. When others allow us into their private and intimate space, it is usually a conscious decision and an offer of deep friendship.
These disciples, then, were invited into the sacred and intimate union between Jesus and the Father, an invitation which was extended to the rest of the disciples.
Like all friendships, the disciples had to grow gradually. They had to learn how to trust. They often did not get it right. They misunderstood. Yet, they remained in the friendship which was offered and endured the tests, failures, disappointments as well as the moments of great and overwhelming glory, the ‘mountaintop’ experience.
As we enter more deeply into this sacred season of Lent, we too are extended this invitation by the Lord to go with Him to the mountaintop. We too have that special favour to enter into that intimate, divine space to get a glimpse of His awesome glory.
It is very necessary for us at times to be reminded of the reality of our friendship with the Lord. We need to be reminded that all is not dark and dismal. Like Abram and the disciples of Jesus, we need to remember that the divine Lord is with us, that His promises are true and that these promises will be fulfilled.
For the elderly Abram, it must have been difficult to believe that he could ever be a father of one child far less the father of a multitude. For the disciples, it must have been anguish to experience the reluctance of the religious leaders to recognise Jesus as the messiah, a scandal to experience the betrayal and suffering of Jesus. They all had to endure and be faithful in their relationship with the Lord.
The Transfiguration then, can be a powerful reminder to each of us that we are a privileged people called into a sacred relationship with the Lord, a relationship of a divine nature.
Much of what the Lord will call us to we may not understand. We will make mistakes. Yet, as special friends invited by the Lord Himself to experience, witness and share His divine nature, we must learn to listen to Him who is the beloved Son in whom the Father has placed His favour and be assured of our place in this divine plan in which we shall all be transfigured with Him in glory.
Oh Lord my God, so unworthy am I to be called by You who are the source of goodness itself. Grant me the grace to accept Your divine gift of friendship. Help me to trust You with my whole heart as You reveal Your designs for my life. Amen.
The Gospel Meditations for March are by Fr Roger Paponette, Judicial Vicar and parish priest of San Rafael.