Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Second Sunday of Lent—12 March A.D. 2017
Ave Maria!


Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English
Lenten Observance

 “His face shone as the sun,
and His garments became as white as snow.”[1]

The Gospel this morning is an interesting one.  Apparently the Church considers it a very important one, for it is recited three times during the liturgical year.  And the reason that the Church emphasizes it so strongly is that It wants us to have something of an understanding of what is in store for us in the glory of heaven.

This “Transfiguration” of our Lord is most likely an indication of what we ourselves can expect to undergo at the last judgment, when we are physically united with God in the Resurrection of the dead.  We expect that God's appearance in heaven will be much more dazzling than simply shining like the sun, or having snow white garments.  The event narrated today is the transfiguration and glorification of our Lord's human nature—something that we have very much in common with Him. 

Pope Saint Leo the Great assures us that the Apostles did not see the actual divine glory:  “not the Divinity itself.  That unutterable and inaccessible vision is reserved for the pure of heart in eternal life ... not for these men to look upon and see while they were still encumbered by mortal flesh.”[2]  “No man can see God and live”[3]  It was Jesus’ humanity that was glorified.  And we can expect something similar for ourselves in return for perseverance in the Faith.

The Transfiguration should also suggest something more immediate to us—something without all the exterior showiness.  In an interior way, something like it occurs every time we receive the Sacraments.

Certainly, if we are in the state of sin, receiving the Sacrament of Baptism or Confession brings about a much more significant glorification than even the Transfiguration.  Think about that—the unbaptized soul, or the soul in the state of mortal sin is without the life of God—in a symbolic sense, it might be considered spiritually “dead.”  But then, through the power of the Sacrament, this person who seems to be “dead” becomes alive—the Holy Ghost comes and dwells in him—previously an outcast, he becomes God's close friend—even more than a friend, this person becomes an adopted son or daughter of God.

And, if that isn't miraculous enough, the Sacraments continue to work in us, actually increasing God's graces and our ability to cooperate with those graces.

Even if we are already in the state of grace, we can receive the Sacrament of Penance over and over—all that is required is sorrow for the sins of our past.  And every time we make a good Confession we are strengthened in grace, and fortified more and more to avoid sin in the future.

The other Sacraments work in a similar manner.  They prepare us for some particular facet of our existence her on earth, they provide the graces necessary to deal with that particular aspect of life, and they all work to strengthen God's sanctifying grace within our soul.  Confirmation prepares us for maturity;  Marriage prepares us for family life;  Holy Orders prepares us to carry on the life of the Church;  Anointing prepares us for serious illness and maybe even for death itself.  They all prepare us for different things, yet they all work to make us holy and to draw us closer to God.

I didn't mention Holy Communion—quite on purpose.  It is in a special relationship to the other Sacraments.  The others strengthen and give us grace, while Holy Communion gives us the Author of all grace, and the Source of all strength.  In one way or another all of the other Sacraments symbolize the Union of God with us in Holy Communion.  They all prepare us to receive Holy Communion worthily and fruitfully.

To use the illustration of today's Gospel, it is in Holy Communion that we are transfigured right here on earth.  All of the Sacraments make us spiritually temples of the Holy Ghost—but in Holy Communion, we physically become tabernacles of Jesus Christ Himself, true God and true man.  In receiving the Blessed Sacrament we receive the Body and Blood of our Lord, which literally become part of our own body.  Thus we are joined to God both physically and spiritually.

In Holy Communion our Lord repairs the losses and the damage that have been done to us by sin.  He strengthens us in charity; the love of God, and the love of neighbor because we love God.  He delights us, making us look forward eagerly to our next encounter with Him in prayer or in the Sacraments.  He nourishes us in our resolve to avoid sin, and fortifies our desire to be united with Him in heaven.

Of course our Lord does all these things for only us when we are properly prepared for Holy Communion.  We are told by St. Paul that we should be fasting—but much more importantly, we are told that we must be in the state of grace; that we must make a good Confession before Holy Communion if we have committed serious sin; “lest,” as St. Paul tells us, “we eat and drink judgment to ourselves.”[4]

So, on this 2nd Sunday of Lent, the Church is urging us to be “transfigured.”  If we are in the state of sin, we are admonished to sorrow for our sins, to Confess, and do penance.  We are urged to further “transform” ourselves; to become more and more like God, drawing closer and closer to Him in frequent Holy Communion.  And, even when we are unable to receive our Lord in the Sacraments, we are urged to approach Him spiritually—telling Him sincerely that we are sorry for our sins, and that we love Him more than everything else on earth.

Remember that in the Sacraments, and particularly in Holy Communion, we receive God's “beloved Son, in Whom [He] is well pleased.”  And isn't that what we are trying to do during this Lenten season?—to be transformed, “transfigured” as it were—to be made over as good sons and daughters of God, “in Whom He is [also] well pleased.”




[1]   Gospel: Matthew xvii: 1-9

[2]   Lesson iii at today’s Matins, Pope Saint Leo the Great, homily on the Transfiguration.

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