Jesus took with him Peter, James and John and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves (Mk 9:2; Mt17:1). This is how both St. Mathew and St. Mark begins the transfiguration narrative which is taken for the liturgical reading of the Second Sunday of Lent. St. Luke in his account of Transfiguration, tells us clearly the purpose of Jesus’ ascent to the mountain: He went up on the mountain to Pray (Lk 9:28).
In the bible and also in many other religious traditions, a mountain is always considered a place of seeking God in Prayer. Pope Benedict XVI in his famous book, “Jesus of Nazareth” writes beautifully about the mountain symbolism in the Bible:
Mountain is the place of ascent, not only outward, but also inward ascent; it is a liberation from the burden of everyday life, a breathing in of the pure air of creation; it offers a view of the broad expanse of creation and its beauty; it gives on an inner peak to stand on and an intuitive sense of the Creator.
Transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain, as experienced by Peter, James and John is interpreted as a prayer event or a mystical experience. When the apostles were by themselves in prayer with Jesus, in a flash of moment they see Jesus in his Glory as Son of God. They experience in Jesus the beginning of messianic age. By this experience, they are slowly initiated into the full depth of the mystery of Jesus.
The evangelists, in narrating transfiguration of Jesus, are trying to put in symbols and words something which cannot be fully expressed in human words. The famous theologian Karl Rahner while speaking on the importance of prayer life said: in our time the Christians must be either mystics or heretics. The secular ideology of today’s world, forces itself on us day by day and entices us to accept convictions that basically insulate man from the “Essential.” In this context, it is very important that we respond to the invitation of the Church during this season of Lent to withdraw ourselves and to spend some time in prayer so as to have a personal experience God and conviction of our faith.
About the Author:
Fr. Binoy Puthusery, C.M. is a Vincentian priest belonging to the Southern Indian Province. He was ordained as priest on December 27, 2008 and soon after served as an assistant parish priest in Tanzania. In 2011, after two years of ministry, he was appointed as Spiritual Director to the Vincentian Sisters of Mercy, Mbinga Tanzania, where he still is today.