Giving and Receiving Love – Transfiguration Second Sunday of Lent (Year C)
Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18 Psalm 27:1, 7-8, 8-9, 13-14 Philippians 3:17-4:1 Luke 9:28B-36
Today, we celebrate the Transfiguration of Jesus when Jesus’s divinity transforms his appearance so that even Jesus’ cloths are lit up by “dazzling” divine light. As Jesus’ divinity shines through his body, the Trinity is revealed. God the Father reveals his presence through a voice from a cloud that says, “This is my Son; listen to him.” This cloud is described as overshadowing those on the mountain top.
This same word, “overshadowing” is also used in Luke’s Gospel when describing the Holy Spirit presence at Mary’s Annunciation where she is overshadowed by the Holy Spirit. The Angel Gabriel tells Mary that “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you (Luke 1:35 RSV)”.
The combination of using the word “overshadowing” along with a cloud, explains Brant Pitre, is intended by Luke to indicate the presence of the Holy Spirit who together with the voice of the Father through the cloud directed to the Son, Jesus, is the Trinity, three divine persons in one divine nature.
The revelation of the Trinity teaches the Holy Father, Pope Francis “reminds Christians that ‘we are called to live not without each other, over or against the other, but withone another, and inanother.”
Similarly, the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI taught that “the dialogue of human beings with each other now becomes a vehicle for the life everlasting, since in the communion of saints it is drawn up into the dialogue of the Trinity itself. This is why the communion of saints is the locus where eternity becomes accessible for us. Eternal life does not isolate a person but leads him out of isolation into true unity with his brothers and sisters and the whole of God’s creation.”
Benedict continues by showing how the Trinity is essential to our faith. “And the whole of God,” Benedict states, “so faith tells us, is the act of relating. This is what we mean when we say that he is a Trinity, that he is threefold. Because he is in himself a complex of relationships, he can also make other beings who are grounded in relationships and who may relate to him, because he has related them to himself.”
In applying the mystery of the Trinity to our daily living, Benedict XVI concludes, “Thus we can see again that man is constructed from within, in the image of God, to be loved and to love. At this point I believe we have to refer to man’s being in the image of God. God is love. The essence of love portrays its own nature in the Trinity. Man is in God’s image, and thereby he is a being whose innermost dynamic is likewise directed toward the receiving and the giving of love.”
Today, may we see difference not as a threat to our identity but as a wonderful opportunity to grow in relationship in accordance with God who is relation, who is Trinity, and whom we are images and likenesses of. In order to grow in fulfilling our essential vocation to be signs of the Trinity, as God’s Trinitarian images and likenesses, we are to become ever more relational, ever more caring of others around us, ever more affirming of genuine difference, ever more ready to receive and give love.
Andrei Rublev [Public domain], “Russian icon of the Old Testament Trinity by Andrey Rublev, between 1408 and 1425,”
Lucas Cranach the Elder [Public domain], “The Holy Trinity in an angelic glory over a landscape, by Lucas Cranach the Elder (d. 1553),”
Francesco Albani [Public domain], “God the Father (top), and the Holy Spirit (represented by a dove) depicted above Jesus. Painting by Francesco Albani (d. 1660),”
Bartolome Esteban Murillo [Public domain], “God the Father (top), the Holy Spirit (a dove), and child Jesus, painting by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (d. 1682),”
Brant Pitre, “The Second Sunday of Advent (Year C),” catholicproductions.com; “1982. episkiazó,” biblehub.com, https://biblehub.com/greek/1982.htm.Luke 1:35 “ἐπισκιάσει” episkiasei Luke 9:34 “ἐπεσκίαζεν” from “ἐπισκιάζω” means “to overshadow”.
Francis, “Pope Francis: “Christian Life Revolves Around the Holy Trinity,” zenit.org, https://zenit.org/articles/pope-francis-christian-life-revolves-around-the-holy-trinity/.
Joseph Ratzinger, Eschatology: Death and Eternal Life, Second Edition, trans. Michael Waldstein (Washington: The Catholic University of America Press, 1988), 159-160.
Benedict XVI, Day by Day with Pope Benedict XVI, ed. Peter John Cameron (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006), 28.
Benedict XVI, Day by Day with Pope Benedict XVI, ed. Peter John Cameron (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006), 176.