Second Sunday of Lent
Lord, it is good for us to be here (Mt. 17.4).
The soul of Jesus, personally united to the Eternal Word (cf., Jn 1.1), enjoyed the Beatific Vision, which has as its connatural effect the glorification of the body. But this effect was impeded by Jesus Himself, who during the years of His life on earth, wanted to resemble us as much as possible by appearing “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Rom 8.3). However, in order to confirm the faith of the Apostles who were shaken by the announcement of the Passion, Jesus permitted some rays from His blessed soul to shine forth for a few brief instants on Thabor, when the Apostles saw Him transfigured. The three were enraptured by it, and yet Jesus had revealed to them only one ray of His glory, for no human creature could have borne the complete vision here on earth.
Glory is the fruit of grace: the grace possessed by Jesus in an infinite degree is reflected in an infinite glory transfiguring Him entirely. Something similar happens to us: grace will transform us from glory to glory (2 Cor 3.18), until one day it will bring us to the Beatific Vision of God in heaven. But while grace transfigures, sin, on the other hand, darkens and disfigures whoever becomes its victim.
The Divine Master teaches His disciples in this way that it was impossible – for Him as well as for them – to reach the glory of the Transfiguration without passing through suffering. It was the same lesson that He would give later to the two disciples at Emmaus: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and so to enter into His glory? (Lk 24.26). What has been disfigured by sin cannot regain its original supernatural beauty except by way of purifying suffering.
Peter’s proposal, It is good for us to be here, was interrupted by a voice from heaven: This is My Beloved Son, in Whom I Am well pleased; hear ye Him!
Spiritual consolations are never an end in themselves and we should never desire them nor try to retain them for our own satisfaction. Joy, even that which is spiritual, should never be the necessary concomitant of possessing God, so too on earth, it should be nothing but a means, enabling us to give ourselves with greater generosity to the service of God. To Peter, who wanted to stay on Thabor in the sweet vision of the transfigured Jesus, God Himself replied by inviting him to listen to and follow the teachings of His Beloved Son. The ardent Apostle would soon learn that following Jesus meant carrying the Cross and ascending Calvary with Him [thus the Catholic priest shows us during the Traditional Latin Mass when he ascends the high altar as he begins to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice].
God does not console us for our entertainment but rather for our encouragement, for our strengthening, for the increase of our generosity in suffering for love of Him.
The vision disappeared; the Apostles raised their eyes and saw nothing nisi solum Jesum (save Jesus alone), and with Jesus alone they came down from the mountain. This is what we must always seek and it must be sufficient for us: Jesus alone, God alone. “Solo Dios basta” (God alone suffices!), as St. Teresa of Jesus puts it. Everything else – consolations, helps, friendships (even spiritual ones), understanding, esteem, encouragement (even from Superiors) – may be good to the extent that God permits us to enjoy them. He very often makes use of them to encourage us in our weakness, but if, through certain circumstances, His divine hand takes all these things away, we should not be upset or disturbed. It is precisely at such times that we can prove to God more than ever – by deeds and not by words only – that He is our All and that He alone suffices! On these occasions the loving soul finds himself in a position to give God one of the finest proofs of its love: to be faithful to Him, to trust in Him, and to persevere in its resolutions to give all, even if, by removing His gifts, He has left it alone. The soul may be in darkness, that is, subject to misunderstanding, bitterness, material and spiritual solitude combined with interior desolation. The time has come to repeat Jesus alone, to come down from Thabor with Him, and to follow Him with the Apostles even to Calvary, where He will suffer, abandoned not only by men, but even by His Father.