Sometimes, for me at least, during Lent, it is easy to focus on a particular kind of image of Christ. You can probably picture him: Christ beaten and bruised, hanging on the cross. It always seems like a good Lent image to me. But today, on the Second Sunday of Lent, we are given a different image of Christ. We are given an image I'd more readily associate with the Resurrection, with Easter, or even any time other than Lent. And yet, we see Christ on the mountain, his face changed and clothes made dazzling white. This is an image of a glorified Jesus, not a suffering, humbled Jesus.
Lent is the period in which the catechumens are prepared in an intense and spiritual way for the coming of Easter and their reception of the Sacraments of Initiation. Even if we have already been baptized, we see that the idea that Lent is about getting ready for something more, something better. We pray, fast, and give alms to make ourselves ready to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ. The Church enters its own period of reflection and repentance so that come the great celebration of Easter, we can rejoice with a renewed sense of mission.
It is easy during Lent to get caught up in the calls to humility, repentance, and renewal. And those are good things. We are called to grow closer to a God who is humble, who wants us to turn back to Him. But, that humility, that repentance, and that renewal, is a call to become something greater than we are right now, to grow more fully into who we are meant to be, Sons and Daughters of God and that is a glorious calling.
In today's Gospel we see Christ in all His glory. We read that as He is standing on the mountain, He is discussing what will happen in Jerusalem, He is discussing nothing less than His Passion, Death, and Resurrection. Christ is glorified in his suffering, in his humility. And we are too. As we pray, fast, and give alms, as we repent and are faithful to the Gospel, we come closer to our God who wants nothing more than for us to be glorified with Him.
The "suffering" that we undergo in Lent is not meant to be the final world. It is not meant to be the lasting image that we have of ourselves or of the God who loves us. The Second Reading, from Philippians, reminds us that we are citizens of heaven and that we will, one day, be transformed so that we may be fully conformed to Christ's glory.
Today we are given a promise in readings. Right now all we might see is the broken, humbled, Christ. We might feel like we, like him, are anything but glorified. But today we remember that Christ is glorified, and we will be too. We remember that Lent will pass and that we will once again celebrate the glory of Christ's Resurrection.
The Responsorial Psalm for today provides us with words of encouragement for not just Lent, but for our whole earthly journey:
I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heat take courage; wait for the Lord.
Rebecca Spellacy is the Associate Director of Liturgy for the Office of Formation for Discipleship in the Archdiocese of Toronto.