Why does the Church place before us the Lord’s Transfiguration on the Second Sunday of Lent? St. Thomas Aquinas: “Now in order that anyone go straight along a road, he must have some knowledge of the end: thus an archer will not shoot the arrow straight unless he first see the target…Above all is this necessary when hard and rough is the road, heavy the going, but delightful the end.”
We are on the hard, rough road of Lent, of the Cross, and we are headed towards the delightful end of Easter, of the Resurrection. We need this encouragement from Jesus to keep our eye on the prize of eternal life in order that we may faithfully suffer and die with Him.
The Transfiguration is a preview of the Resurrection for the disciples and for us. During Lent, our Lord is asking us to go out into the desert with Him. He is asking us to suffer with Him and eventually to die with Him. By giving us this preview of His glory and ours today, He wishes to reassure us that suffering and death are not the final word of our story with Him. He wishes to encourage our hearts with the truth of the future glory of Heaven to which we are called. And so today He shows us His Resurrection.
We ought to think often of Heaven as specifically and intensely as possible. This is the primary reason that the saints instruct us to do daily meditation. We are to keep our minds and hearts in Heaven so that we will desire Heaven and endure whatever sufferings are required of us in order to gain Heaven. In Heaven, we will experience the Beatific Vision: we will see God in His essence with the eyes of our soul. This intellectual Vision of God is our complete and perfect happiness. It is an all-engrossing activity that quiets our will completely, the infinite realization of contemplation and friendship. Whatever joy we have in this life, whatever bits of happiness we managed to experience as we journey here, are only the slightest hints of the joy and happiness that will be ours in the Beatific Vision.
This Beatific Vision, by which our soul will be filled with God, will overflow into our bodies when we receive them again in the resurrection on the Last Day. Thus, we will live for all eternity – forever – with glorified souls and glorified bodies, like Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary. We will have bodies that shine with the clarity of glory that our Lord revealed in the Transfiguration. All we have to do is love Him so as to suffer with Him and die with Him.
Fr. Joseph Previtali