Second Sunday in Lent


By:  John Dalla Costa

Mountains in scripture are not for scenic tourism. The toil of climb is for separation and preparation, to shed by the striving and struggle of ascent those habits that keep us stuck in the comfortable, and numb to God.

Climbing is prayer. As we learn from Abraham and Moses, that exertion in obedience and purification ultimately triggers a receptivity for the light and love of God to pour with transformative fury into our lives.

This happened to Peter, James and John. As the theologian Andreas Andreopolis explains, the Transfiguration did not change Jesus. The miracle on Mount Tabor was in the “perceptive capability” granted to the disciples to see Jesus only as he truly is – as the Incarnated Son of God.

We should probably kneel pondering this glimpse of the Trinity. The resplendent glory of the Father, which shines so brilliantly through the Son, is apprehensible to the cowering disciples only by the amazing gifts of the Holy Spirit. Fear is a good response to this theophany of love. But so is glee, because we have been baptized into this Trinity, and actively participate in Transfiguration with every Eucharist.

Lent is a process for reawakening reverence, using repentance and prayer to hone the “perceptive capability” to see God in all things. Our challenge this Lent is to experience this transfiguration materially as well as spiritually, in ways that transform perceptions about our precious planet, and all the life it sustains.

We have some great mentors for this task. One is St. Bonaventure, the medieval mystic and theologian who taught that the soul’s journey includes encountering God in the beauty, diversity, interdependence, order, and dynamism forever unfolding in nature. Another is the Jesuit palaeontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who discerned the pattern of transfiguring holiness in the very rocks and geological record of evolution.

“Blessed be you,” wrote de Chardin, “universal matter, immeasurable time, boundless ether, triple abyss of stars and atoms and generations: you who by overflowing and dissolving our narrow standards or measurement reveal to us the dimensions of God.”