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Meditation of Archbishop Pizzaballa: Second Sunday in Lent, Year C

Published: March 15 Fri, 2019

March 17, 2019

Second Sunday in Lent, Year C


The Gospel passage that tells the event of the transfiguration of Jesus is set among the announcements of the Passion. Jesus is starting to tell the disciples that His journey to Jerusalem will conclude with Easter and, immediately after the first of these announcements, Jesus goes up on a high mountain, which tradition identifies with Mount Tabor. The Transfiguration event, which the Liturgy of Lent proposes to us every year on the second Sunday, after the temptations, happens there. We can also reread the transfiguration as an announcement.

On Tabor, Jesus announces the purpose of every human life, the vocation to which man is called: to live a full experience of glory, of fullness, of relationship with God. Every man is called to become, with all his heart, a revelation of the Father, a full opening to Him.

We discover that all this, usually, is not visible to the human gaze: if we look with the eyes of our body, we can only see our fleeting and mortal reality, incapable of eternity.

If we look with the eyes of faith, on the other hand, we can see the vision that Peter, John, and James witnessed; the one man already is called to live, before passing through death, the experience of resurrection.

The Gospel tells us how this is possible.

First of all with prayer. The reference to prayer is explicit at the beginning of the passage (Lk 9:29), but returns continually, hidden within the entire text, because this moment of light is a continuous dialogue, in which each one speaks, each listens, each feels heard. Jesus dialogues with the Father and does so by listening to the Law and the Prophets in the people of Moses and Elijah. The disciples listen to the Word of the Father, who bids us to do nothing but listen to the Good News of the chosen Son on His way to Jerusalem, where He will give His life for all.

Prayer is this mutual opening, done primarily by listening, and in which each one, listening, receives the revelation of his own face in relation to the other. The new humanity is, therefore, humanity in listening, in dialogue.

But what does Jesus listen to, what is the Word of the Father that, having heard, is capable of transfiguring existence, of bringing it to its fullness?

This is what we find in verse 35: “This is my Son, the chosen one; Listen to him.” Praying is just learning to listen, among so many voices, to the Father who wants to communicate His will to choose us, to love us and to have us as children. Listening is making this Word resound more and more in-depth, letting it shape our life, our perception of ourselves, our relationships.

In addition to listening and prayer, the disciples are invited to enter a cloud (Lk 9:34), they feel fear: they have before them the luminous face of the Lord, which they must somehow permit, to enter into the darkness of a cloud where all the boundaries vanish, where one loses control of things.

The disciples, at the moment of the Passion of the Lord, will be called to enter this cloud, this darkness. They will do it as they will be able, and they will instinctively experience failure, disbelief, and flight.

The new life will not happen thanks to their strength but by the power of the One who instead will not refuse to enter the darkness of the Passion and will come out alive and victorious over death, capable of giving life to everyone in a definitive way.

The Paschal Mystery, the new life, does not happen but through this trust, this experience of abandonment in a Word that tells of the unilateral and gratuitous love of God: and Lent is given to us to surrender to the evidence of this Love, the only One who knows how to transfigure every existence and free it from darkness.