St. Peter's Square
II Sunday of Lent, March 17, 2019
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
On this second Sunday of Lent, the liturgy allows us to contemplate the event of the Transfiguration, in which Jesus grants the disciples Peter, James and John a foretaste of the glory of the Resurrection: a patch of heaven on earth. The evangelist Luke (see 9,28-36) shows us Jesus transfigured on the mountain, which is the place of light, a fascinating symbol of the unique experience reserved for the three disciples. They go up with the Master on the mountain, they see him plunging into prayer, and at a certain point "his face changed appearance" (v. 29). Accustomed to seeing him daily in the simple semblance of his humanity, in front of that new splendor, which also envelops his whole person, they remain amazed. And alongside Jesus appear Moses and Elijah, who talk with him about his next "exodus", that is, his Easter of death and resurrection. It is an anticipation of Easter. Then Peter exclaims: "Master, it is good for us to be here" (v. 33). He would like that moment of grace never to end!
The Transfiguration takes place at a very precise moment in the mission of Christ, that is, after He confided to the disciples that he must "suffer a lot, [...] be killed and resurrected on the third day" (v. 21). Jesus knows that they do not accept this reality - the reality of the cross, the reality of Jesus' death -, and so he wants to prepare them to bear the scandal of the passion and death of the cross, so that they know that this is the way through which the Father heavenly will bring his Son to glory, raising him from the dead. And this will also be the path of the disciples: no one comes to eternal life except by following Jesus, bringing his own cross into earthly life. Each of us has his own cross. The Lord shows us the end of this journey which is the Resurrection, the beauty, carrying our own cross.
Therefore, the Transfiguration of Christ shows us the Christian perspective of suffering. Suffering is not a sadomasochism: it is a necessary but transitory passage. The point of arrival to which we are called is as luminous as the face of Christ transfigured: in him is salvation, bliss, light, God's love without limits. Showing his glory in this way, Jesus assures us that the cross, the trials, the difficulties in which we struggle have their solution and their overcoming in Easter. Therefore, in this Lent, we too go up the mountain with Jesus! But how? With prayer. We climb to the mountain with prayer: silent prayer, prayer of the heart, prayer always seeking the Lord. We remain some moments in recollection, every day a little bit, we fix the inner look on his face and let his light pervade and radiate in our life.
In fact, the evangelist Luke insists that Jesus was transfigured "while he prayed" (v. 29). He had immersed himself in an intimate conversation with the Father, in which also the Law and the Prophets - Moses and Elijah - resounded, and while he adhered with the whole of himself to the will of salvation of the Father, including the cross, the glory of God invaded him revealing also on the outside. Thus it is, brothers and sisters: prayer in Christ and in the Holy Spirit transforms the person from within and can illuminate others and the surrounding world. How many times have we found people who illuminate, who give off light from their eyes, who have that luminous look! They pray, and prayer does this: it makes us luminous with the light of the Holy Spirit.
We continue our Lenten journey with joy. We give space to prayer and to the Word of God, which the liturgy offers us abundantly in these days. The Virgin Mary teaches us to stay with Jesus even when we do not understand it and do not understand it. Because only by remaining with Him will we see his glory.
After the Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters,
these days, to the pain of wars and conflicts that continue to afflict all of humanity, we have added the one for the victims of the horrific attack against two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand I pray for the dead and the wounded and their families. I am close to our Muslim brothers and to that whole community. I renew the invitation to unite with prayer and gestures of peace to combat hatred and violence. Let us pray together, in silence, for our Muslim brothers who have been killed.
I address a cordial greeting to all of you present here: faithful of Rome and of many parts of the world. I greet the pilgrims from Poland, those from Valencia in Spain, and those from Cajazeiras in Brazil and Benguela from Angola. How many Angolans!
I greet the parish groups coming from Verona, Quarto di Napoli and Castel del Piano in Perugia; the students of Corleone, the altar boys of Brembo in Dalmine and the association "Uno a Cento" of Padua.
I wish you all a good Sunday. Please don't forget to pray for me. Good lunch and goodbye!