In his autobiography, Out of My Life and Thought, Albert Schweitzer said that one of the main things his parents did for him as a child was to take him to worship services, even though he was too young to understand much of what was going on. He claimed it is not important that children understand everything. What is important is “that they shall feel something of what is serious and solemn....” Can you see Peter, James, and John as they contemplated what it meant to be in the presence not only of Jesus but also Elijah and Moses, and then on top of all that, to hear the Voice of God as well?
Second Sunday of Lent we hear from the Gospel of Luke, the Transfiguration story: Jesus took Peter, John, and James, and went up a mountain to pray. Jesus’ face changes, his clothes become dazzling white, and Moses and Elijah appear. What did they talk about? They talked about the Exodus. We know in the first exodus Moses led Israelites from Egypt to the Promised Land and finally built the city of Jerusalem. Jesus came to lead humanity to lead from slavery of sin to freedom.
In the Gospel we see Jesus was conversing with Moses and Elijah, the two figures of the Old Testament law and the prophets. Jesus is the fulfillment of the law and prophets. They talked about Jesus' New Exodus. At the first exodus there was a lamb shed blood (Exodus 12). In the new exodus Jesus is the new lamb who is going to shed the blood for the entire humanity. The old exodus started from Egypt, traveled through the wilderness for forty years (Joshua 5:6) and reached the earthly Promised Land, and finally built Jerusalem. In the new exodus Jesus came to Jerusalem to begin a new exodus to lead us to the heavenly Promised Land, the New Jerusalem; heaven. His exodus is passion, death, resurrection and ascension. It is a great exodus.
Transfiguration takes place in the Gospel right after Peter’s proclamation of faith and prediction of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection. Jesus’ transfiguration confirms his divine Sonship and it strengthens Peter, James and John. As at the Baptism of Jesus (Luke 3:21-22), Father declares of Jesus, “This is Son, my chosen, listen to him” (Luke 9:35).
Jesus, at the transfiguration before Peter, James and John, revealed his glory, later he manifested in the resurrection (Matthew 28:2-3). At the transfiguration Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents…” Peter loved that mountain top experience, and loved to remain there, but they had to go down for the new exodus. Jesus shows his glory at the transfiguration, but transfiguration points us to the Cross, the Sacrifice, death, resurrection and ascension.
Every time when we gather to celebrate the Eucharist, it is our opportunity to participate in Jesus’ new exodus, his passion, death, resurrection and ascension. Every time we kneel in front of the Blessed Sacrament, we have a great opportunity to adore and praise him. Do I use the opportunity to prepare and celebrate the Eucharist? Do I use the opportunity to spend time in front of the Blessed Sacrament? Jesus gives us nourishment and strength in the Eucharist for daily life.