I’ll be honest, I’ve always had a difficult time with this reading during Lent; for me, Lent has always been a very somber time, and readings that express emotions of a different degree during these forty days tend to catch me slightly off guard. During this time I prefer the testing in the desert, or the call to repentance; anything that would remind me of my duty to pray, fast, and give alms. I have always wondered, why does the Church specifically choose this reading for Lent? Though I do not have the answer, after some time spent in reflection, I believe I have at least an answer.
In the story of the Transfiguration, Jesus goes high up on a mountain with his disciples; this is probably not the first time they have done this, but it is important. Why? Here Jesus reveals His glory for Peter, James, and John. This is a very significant point in His ministry: that His disciples know and preach Him as the Messiah. However, this reading comes to us in only the second week of Lent, and we have at least one more mount to climb before our Lenten journey is ended. This mount will not see Christ robed in light and glory, nor flanked by Moses and Elijah. Rather, Our Lord will be bloody, bruised, broken, and maimed, surrounded by criminals and left to die. That’s right: the other mount that our Lenten journey leads us to is Calvary.
The scene at Calvary is a much different one than those that we hear of today; the glorious garments are replaced with scarcely any clothing, the radiant white light with drops of crimson blood. There are still people waiting with Christ, but the crowd has changed; it is no longer his disciples struck dumb with wonder, but rather His Mother and the Beloved Disciple. Jesus does not come down from this raised place of His own power, but His Body is lowered by the earliest Christians after His Soul is offered up. How terrifying, too, this must have been for His disciples, to see their master and teacher crucified and killed for His teachings.
These two mounts serve as a good example of the two mindsets we must keep with us throughout Lent: the first, of the glory of God and the wondrous personage of Christ, Our Lord; the second that of Calvary and a reminder that we are pilgrim people and that someday, all things will pass away, even Death. A prudent man, I believe, remembers keeps both of these close to his heart; the former, so that he does not forget the glory and majesty of God, the latter, so that he is reminded of the temporality of this world and great sacrifice with which our reconciliation was bought.
As we continue on our Lenten journey, I encourage you all to keep in mind the mount to which we are ultimately headed, and to remain steadfast in prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. The first full week of Lent is complete, and so hopefully your fast, whatever it is that you have decided, has become more possible as the initial shock days wear off. We are now entering into the fullness of Lent; Ash Wednesday is passed and Good Friday and Easter are still far off. Let us take the excitement and wonder brought by Sunday’s Gospel passage and hold it in our hearts as we continue our Lenten journey.
 Matthew, 5:17.