Dig Deeper into Sunday’s Gospel: Read Matthew 17:1–9
The summer before my senior year of college, I was interning for a member of the U.S. Congress when our office was ushered in to hear a guest speaker on Capitol Hill. Erik Weihenmayer had endured a difficult childhood, losing his eyesight at the tender age of thirteen. Amazingly, even with his handicap, he took on one of the fiercest physical challenges in the world. In 2001, Erik became the first blind person to climb Mount Everest.
I remember the passion and emotion in his voice as he described one particular harrowing passage his group had to navigate as they traversed to the top. Others wanted to turn back, but Erik pushed to keep going. Many have lost their lives trying to climb the dangerous Mount Everest, but Erik said the danger was worth the reward. When I had the privilege to meet him after his talk, he asked to hold my hand. I obliged. Joy radiated out of this man. The trek to the mountaintop had transformed his life forever.
Erik’s mountaintop experience comes flooding into my memory as I read the Bible passage for this week’s gospel in Matthew 17:1–9. The Transfiguration of the Lord is one of the monumental events in the life of Jesus Christ, highlighted in the synoptic gospels (Matthew 17:1–9, Mark 9:2–8, and Luke 9:28–36). Traveling with three of His best friends, Peter, James, and John, Jesus led His companions up a high mountain to pray (Matthew 17:1). As the group was praying, Jesus’ appearance changed as He was transformed before them, “his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light” (Matthew 17:2). Then Moses and Elijah miraculously appeared and spoke to the Lord about His upcoming death. A cloud overshadowed the group, and God the Father’s voice came from the cloud saying, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him” (Matthew 17:5). The disciples witnessing this were overcome, falling on their faces filled with awe. Jesus came near them, touching them and urging them not to fear. Matthew tells us, “And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone” (Matthew 17:8).
Do you have the chills reading this? I know I certainly do. Just as Erik’s life was radically transformed by his trip to the world’s highest mountaintop, the disciples would return from their climb forever changed. The invitation to experience God’s glory is not just for courageous adrenaline seekers or chosen apostles. Jesus is inviting us to transform our lives too.
I invite you to ponder two key revelations from our Lord's transfiguration that apply to our lives today.
Last night, my family and I gathered around for a Lenten devotional titled Restore by Sister Miriam James Heidland. The room quieted as we read Romans 8:39, “nothing can separate us from the love of God.” When we circled the room to hear what each person had learned from the material, my tween son whispered, “I am just blown away by the fact that I can’t lose God’s love. That’s just amazing. No matter what. He loves me.” I locked eyes with my son, nodding my head yes. The holy Scriptures tell us no trouble, sickness, hardship, persecution, famine, or danger can change God’s love for us. My friend, that applies to you too. God loves you—all of you. He will stop at nothing to get to your heart. Sister Miriam writes, “Each person’s relationship with Christ is unique and unrepeatable. As God loves each of us in a way he loves no other person, so too we love God in a way that no one else loves God. The shape of our heart is precious to him; he knows the distinct contours that belong to us alone.”
How can you take notice of God’s abundant love for you today?
Jesus ushers in hope and a new way for us through a personal relationship with Him. His death and resurrection opened the gates of heaven, offering us an invitation to spend eternity with Him. There is nothing I can do, no amount of good work, to earn heaven on my own. I cannot hope in myself, but I can hope in what Jesus did on the cross.
An experience with the Lord, whether on a mountaintop, during adoration, or when we are singing at the top of our lungs to worship music in the carpool line, is the catalyst to growing a more humble heart. When we draw close to God and the hope He offers, it reminds us of God’s greatness and our littleness. Bible scholar Jeff Cavins says the transfiguration is a fulfillment of the exodus in the Old Testament, but it’s also a new exodus, a freedom from sin. It is not enough to become aware of our sins; God longs for us to bring them before Him. A humble heart leads us to confession, where we are called to repent and ask Jesus to help us avoid sinning in the future. James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” Acknowledging my sins and accepting my need for a Savior have not been easy, but doing this has radically changed my life. Jesus’ love transformed the three apostles on that mountain, and His love is transforming me.
God wants to reveal Himself to you during this season of Lent. He wants you to feel His abundant and personal love. Where is Jesus offering you a new way today? God wants you to reconcile your heart to His. He’s asking you to trust in the hope of heaven and take action to make things right in your relationship with Him.
Food for thought or journaling…
Jesus, how can You make Yourself known to me today? How are You calling me to repentance and wanting to set me free?
Lord, I want to be overwhelmed by Your glory. Help me to see You. Amen.
 EWTN, “What is the Transfiguration?” (February 2023), https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/seasons-and-feast-days/transfiguration-14446.
 Heidland, Sr. Miriam James. Restore. (Notre Dame, Indiana: Ave Maria Press, 2022), 13.
 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd edition (Vatican: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2012), #568.
 Ascension Press, Encountering the Word: Year A with Jeff Cavins, “The Transfiguration of The Lord,” (February 2023), https://media.ascensionpress.com/video/transfiguration-of-the-lord/