As we begin the sacred time of Lent, we offer a Franciscan Gospel reflection and questions written by Fr. Paul Gallagher, OFM for your prayer. They are edited by Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Anne Marie Lom and Joe Thiel. The excerpts from the Sunday readings are prepared by Joe Thiel. To read or download the complete pdf with excerpts for your prayer, please click here: Franciscan Gospel Reflection March 17 2019 Excerpts are from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Please include this information when printing.
Photos: St. Philips Parish, Green Bay, Wisconsin; St. Rita prayer board, Holy Family Convent, Manitowoc, Wisconsin
Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray. While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.
Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep, but becoming fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” But he did not know what he was saying. While he was still speaking, a cloud came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. They fell silent and did not at that time tell anyone what they had seen.
Luke places his account of the Transfiguration after Jesus’ first prediction of his future rejection by the elders, scribes and chief priests. (Luke 9:22) After this prediction, Jesus tells the disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me…” (Luke 9:23) Luke states that it was about eight days after Jesus had given this teaching that he took Peter, John, and James up the mountain where the transfiguration took place.
The actual transfiguration takes place while the disciples are “overcome by sleep.” The event as described by Luke has two distinct parts. The first is a description of the transfiguration of Jesus. The text states that Jesus took Peter, James and John up the mountain to pray. Neither Matthew (Matthew 17:1-8) nor Mark (Mark 9:2-8) mention that Jesus is going up the mountain to pray. Luke relates this to his community as an experience of Jesus in prayer. It is Jesus who is changed, interiorly and exteriorly. The text states that his face was changed, and his clothing became dazzling white. But this prayer experience does not include Peter, James and John. Verse 32 states that they were overcome by sleep.
The second part of the description includes the disciples, but it no longer refers to them as Peter, James, and John. Now it is Peter and his companions, reflecting Peter’s role in the rest of the event. He recognizes the unique blessing of the experience and suggests that they build tents so that Jesus, Moses, and Elijah can stay, and the experience can continue. Lest Peter misunderstand what is taking place, they are embraced by the dark cloud of God’s presence, and God states clearly that Jesus is God’s Son. Then when the cloud lifts, Jesus is standing there alone. Jesus is not a prophet like Moses and Elijah, but he only is God’s Son.
1. So far, this lent has been…
2. If a friend asked me to accompany them for a day of climbing, I would likely respond…
3. When I am praying, I have noticed…
4. What do you think was going through the minds of the disciples during the eight days after Jesus’ prediction of his own rejection and death, and telling them that they, too, must be willing to take up their cross if they are going to be his follower?
5. The gospel text describes a dark cloud appearing and coming over the disciples. That experience of the disciples reminded me…
6. If I were to put myself in the shoes of Peter, James, or John coming down the mountain that day, I…
7. Why do you think the Church has chosen to give us this gospel text for our reflection as we begin the second week of Lent?
8. Can you take some time to talk with God honestly about your experience of God’s presence in your own journey or this lent, or some other thought that arises within you from this gospel?