Gospel – Matthew 17:1-9

Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother,
and led them up a high mountain by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them;
his face shone like the sun
and his clothes became white as light.
And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them,
conversing with him.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Lord, it is good that we are here.
If you wish, I will make three tents here,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, behold,
a bright cloud cast a shadow over them,
then from the cloud came a voice that said,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased;
listen to him.”
When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate
and were very much afraid.
But Jesus came and touched them, saying,
“Rise, and do not be afraid.”
And when the disciples raised their eyes,
they saw no one else but Jesus alone.

As they were coming down from the mountain,
Jesus charged them,
“Do not tell the vision to anyone
until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

Reflection by Mr. Jim Donahue of Central Catholic High School, Pittsburgh, PA

“If he were not of the same nature as ourselves, his command to imitate him as a master would be a futile one.” – St Hippolytus

This Sunday’s Gospel is a quick view into the nature and glory of Jesus Christ, our Lord and friend whom the founder was inspired by to create our Lasallian brotherhood in Christ. Our Father is well pleased with his son and gives the apostles a clear and simple directive “listen to him.” Seemingly elated one moment only to be terrified the next, the apostles are so consoled by Jesus. As they listen to him say; “rise and do not be afraid” they are able to lift their gaze to our Lord and be with him alone and at peace again. We can imagine the glory and awe the apostles had for Jesus after the transfiguration, but that they were directed not to discuss until He truly came in glory, because we did not know yet the sacrifice that was needed to get there. Our founder St. Jean Baptist De La Salle wrote the following in reflection of this passage.

“Because Jesus Christ always possessed this glory within himself, when he was transfigured, the change which appeared in him was only external. This is not the same with us. The change which must take place in us is interior; we must be entirely transformed by the light and the fullness of grace and by the possession of the Spirit of God…in prayer a soul can attain a true transfiguration or rather transformation of itself and be enlightened by God; and when the soul is transfigured in this way with Jesus Christ, it must be willing to meditate on his Passion and cross, to show that all its desire is to become like Jesus Christ in his sufferings.” – Meditations. It is in our prayer or our response to Jesus’ words “rise and be not afraid” by simply lifting our eyes to gaze at our Lord that we are able to be not afraid of the mission or calling that we have received.

Questions for Reflection

“Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel” is one of the options of blessings we get as we receive our ashes. What is the sin in my life (or the mark I am missing) that needs to be cut out and how can being faithful to the gospel support me in this effort?

Ash Wednesday is a launch point into our journey through lent to the Holy Triduum. How can I make this journey about friendship and a real relationship with our Lord? Who is Jesus to me? What does Jesus see in me? What am I grateful for in our relationship?

As I start this season of penance: Jean Baptist de La Salle stressed to his brothers “ask the Lord to sanctify” the (ashes), sacrifices, fasting, mortifications, etc. So ask our Lord to sanctify them. Finally ask “Lord how can living out a season of penance increase my affection, fervor, gratitude, and zeal for you and for others?”

About Jim Donahue

Jim DonahueMy name is Jim Donahue. I am grateful to be able to work at Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh. I work as a counselor for our all male 9-12 grade student body in addition to supporting the vocations to the Christian Brothers. I love working and interacting with the students, especially alongside my community of Lasallian brothers and sisters at Central Catholic.