Today is the second Sunday of Lent. The gospel passage for today is Luke’s version of the Transfiguration of Jesus. It is common to hear people say to others, “Be yourself!” Or regarding themselves, they would say, “I just want to be myself!” But before we get to the stage of “Be yourself,” the first step to take is to know yourself. If you do not know yourself, you cannot be yourself. Another way to put it is that our mission flows from our identity.
When Jesus Christ became a human being and was born on Christmas Day, he was not play-acting, he was not pretending to be a human being, he was a real human being; he was like us in everything except sin. He went through all the struggles that we go through, and so, just like us, Jesus wanted to be himself, but to be himself, he had to know himself; his mission had to flow from his identity. One time that the question of knowing yourself, and the question of being yourself come up, is the time when we need to take an important step in life. Before taking any important step in life, we must first know who we are, then from there, we answer the question of what we are to do based on who we are.
During his public ministry, Jesus Christ faced those two questions of identity and mission several times. Two prominent times that Jesus faced those questions were two turning points during his earthly life. The first one was at the beginning of his public ministry. Before embracing his public ministry, Jesus had to go receive his baptism, and while he was praying, the Holy Spirit descended on him and the voice of his Father came from heaven saying, “You are my Son, the one I love, with you I am well pleased.” Here, Jesus got the answer to his question about his identity. He is the beloved Son of the Father. This declaration from the Father empowered Jesus to stand his ground when the devil came with temptations while Jesus was in the desert.
The second turning point came at the end of his public ministry. Jesus needed to face Jerusalem, to go and suffer and die for us. He needed another confirmation regarding his identity, to know how his mission would flow from his identity. So, he went up to the mountain with Peter, James, and John his apostles. There on the mountain, just like at his baptism, the voice came from heaven saying, “This is my Son, the one I have chosen, listen to him.” Moses and Elijah also appeared on the mountain. Moses was there to represent the Law, while Elijah represented the Prophets. So, both of them represented the Old Testament, and along with the voice from heaven, they confirmed the identity of Jesus, and his mission in Jerusalem.
During the baptism of Jesus, the voice of the Father addressed Jesus directly, “You are my Son.” But at the Transfiguration, the voice of the Father is no longer addressing Jesus, but addressing those who are with Jesus saying, “This is my Son.” Among those gathered, Peter needed to hear those words the most. Remember the first time that Jesus made a prediction about what will be happening in Jerusalem, how he would suffer and die for us; Peter rebuked him saying, “That cannot happen to you,” and Jesus replied, “Get behind me Satan! You are thinking in the way of men and not of God.” From that point, it became necessary for Jesus to take Peter up to hear directly from the Father, and so the voice of the father came telling Peter to listen to Jesus, “This is my Son, the one I have chosen, listen to him.” The little glory that Peter experienced on the mountain made him to say, “Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He was no longer ready to descend the mountain. But the voice came from heaven telling him to listen to Jesus, implying that Jesus was taking the right step in the right direction as he was heading to Jerusalem. His Jerusalem mission must flow from his identity as the Son of God.
My dearly beloved in Christ, on this second Sunday of Lent, the scripture reminds us of the need to ask ourselves the question, “Who am I?” It is from the proper answer to that question that we can know how we can be ourselves and what we must do. Where do we get the answer to these questions? We get the answers from going to God in prayer as Jesus did at his baptism. He was praying when he got the answer. He was also praying at his Transfiguration when he got the answer. The other place where we get the answer is the scripture. Moses and Elijah were present to open the Old Testament (The Law and the Prophets) for Jesus to read to find the answers to his questions about his identity and his mission. God answers us whenever we seek Him in prayer and in the scripture. When we go to God, we must go with a listening attitude. The voice from heaven said, “…listen to him.” Many times, when we listen, we find it difficult to hear God because we had already made up our mind regarding what we want God to say. It is hard to hear God when we already have an answer that we are imposing on God. Sometimes, God answers in silence, sometimes God answers in terms that we find uncomfortable to accept. It was not an easy journey for Jesus, but at the end came the glory that overshadowed the cross. My dearly beloved in Christ, let us listen, uncomfortable as it may be; let us listen, even though the answer may come in the form of silence; let us listen. Scripture says, “All things work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28). May the love of God continue to be upon us as we place our trust in God, through Christ our Lord. Amen.