The Pledge of Future Glory
by Erica Tice
Each year the 2nd Sunday of Lent presents us with the account of Christ’s transfiguration on the mountainside. Seeing as the Lenten season has just begun, it seems to be an interesting vignette in the life of Christ to be recalling when, ordinarily, we might think that focussing on Christ’s suffering and death might be more appropriate to the season. A closer look, however, allows us to see that the account of Christ’s transfiguration has deep significance for us early in this season of Lent as it focuses on the sister virtues of hope and perseverance.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that “hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit” (CCC 1817). It is precisely this virtue that Christ wants to strengthen in Peter, James, and John and, by virtue of our baptism, in us as well. He knows that His friends will abandon Him in His hour of need, not because they no longer love Him, but because they are weak and fearful. This transfiguration into glory on the mountainside serves as a foreshadowing of the glory of the life to come in the kingdom of heaven. We are meant to recall this glory, and the promise of our future glory, when we are in the midst of our own penance and suffering.
Perseverance is the virtue by which we maintain our hope and carry out our objectives to attain holiness in spite of difficulties. Holiness is earned, not bestowed. In today’s Gospel, we understand that Peter, James, and John will need to persevere not only through Christ’s suffering and death, but also their own tribulations and martyrdom to attain holiness. We, too, strive to persevere through the wear and tear of daily life, always keeping the goal in mind: eternal life. St. Thomas Aquinas, a 13th century Dominican friar and theological giant, phrased it beautifully when he penned a prayer relating to the virtue of perseverance: “O sacred banquet, in which Christ is received, the memory of His Passion is recalled, the soul is filled with grace, and the pledge of future glory is given to us.”
This week, let us anchor our hope in God and recall the pledge of future glory that Christ has promised to all those who persevere in the life of grace: eternal happiness in heaven with the Trinity and all the saints.
Genesis 22.1-2, 9.-13, 15-18
Romans 8.31b-35, 37