Essays/Articles and Scriptural Studies

(Missale Romanum 1970) 

O God, who have commanded us to listen to Your beloved Son, be pleased, we pray, to nourish us inwardly by Your word, that, with spiritual sight made pure, we may rejoice to behold your glory. Through our Lord, etc. Amen.

Traditionally, the Second Sunday in Lent highlights Our Lord’s Transfiguration. While this event is principally commemorated on August 6th in both East and West, the Roman Rite commemorates it again during Lent in a lesser fashion, so as to experience its chronological proximity to the Passion.

The Church, in proposing this event to us again, would have us see what the disciples themselves were called to understand, namely, that Jesus went to His Passion freely and deliberately (cf. Byzantine Rite kontakion for August 6). He was not a victim of circumstances, as He himself indicates in John’s Gospel: “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down My life, that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father” (cf. Jn. 10:17-18, RSV). This passage also manifests Jesus’ foreknowledge of His rising again, which the Transfiguration likewise foreshadows.

Our Collect above, taken from the MR’70, highlights the Father’s revelation of His Son and His command to the disciples on Mount Tabor, which we hear in today’s Gospel: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him” (Mt. 17:5, RSV). This theophany reinforces Jesus’ own words earlier in John’s Gospel: “Every one who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me” (Jn. 6:45, RSV). It reinforces this passage, as well, which occurs after the Transfiguration and immediately prior to the Passion: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by Me” (Jn. 14:6, RSV).  

If we want to know God personally, we must listen lovingly to Jesus and obey Him. This is a good lesson at any season of the Christian life, but it is especially helpful for us to hear it during Lent, when we strive to strengthen our love for Jesus and our obedience to His teaching.

In the Last Supper discourses in John’s Gospel, Jesus shows us that His teaching should not be merely discursive propositions in our heads, but personal knowledge of Him, deeply internalized in our heart of hearts and manifested in charity. In John 15, in particular, Jesus’ agricultural analogy of the vine and the branches shows the kind of organic union, indeed communion between Himself and His disciples that He desires. In such a close union with Jesus, His words will have a purifying effect in our souls, allowing us truly to know God:

You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (cf. Jn. 15:3-5, RSV, emphasis mine).

Thus, Jesus gives us a perfect commentary on his Father’s command at the Transfiguration, “Listen to Him.” 

(David Allen)

Mr. David Allen, M.T.S., is the lay Pastoral Associate for our parish of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes.


About Our Parish

Mary Immaculate of Lourdes is Newton and Needham Massachusetts's oldest Roman Catholic Parish. Founded as Saint Mary's Parish in 1870 it was renamed "Mary Immaculate of Lourdes" when the new Church was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, 1910. In addition to being a regular territorial parish of the Archdiocese of Boston it is also a "Mission Parish" since 2007 with a special apostolate for the Traditional Latin Mass (1962 Missal).

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