From a homily by Abbot Robert Barnes:
What can be a greater contrast between the two experiences of Jesus? I mean his temptation in the desert and his Transfiguration on Mount Tabor. Yet, it seems to me that they are but the two covers, the front and back, of the same book, the book of the life of Jesus Christ. And if these two covers show us the life of Jesus, they then are our life too, our life in Christ.
The experience of temptation is a side of our life that is all too familiar. It’s the book cover we know best. But the second cover on the book of my life, the transfiguration? What could Jesus’ transfiguration possibly say about me? I believe that the Church is sending me a message here by having us consider the temptation of Jesus on the First Sunday of Lent and his Transfiguration on the Second Sunday of Lent. If we consider the possibility that there could be a connection here, what might that connection be?
By original sin I am divided inside myself, I am torn in different directions. I suffer this and I know this is true. Part of my dividedness is that I only see this one side of myself. I don’t see myself as God sees me, as a child of God! I am baptized in Christ. I am a member of Christ’s body. I am by God’s adoption of me a co-heir with Christ. This is all God’s gift to me, his grace: I didn’t earn it. But I did receive it and it is true. I can forget; I will sin against it, but I can’t get rid of it. This is how God always sees me, as his child in Christ.
Do we grasp what is the glory of being a member of the risen Christ? We don’t see it–we can’t! But we have the words of scripture itself in the First Letter of Saint John: “See what love the Father has bestowed on us in letting us be called children of God. Yet that is what we are…we are God’s children now; what we shall later be has not yet come to light. We know that when it comes to light, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is,”
We carry a glory within us, which is not of our own making: it is God’s sheer gift to us, his grace, making us his daughters and sons. We are filled with his glory, not that we are able to see it. But God sees it. Is it so wrong to see the meaning of the transfiguration of Jesus on Mount Tabor as a message to us of the inner light of God we all carry within us, as members of Christ’s body? Do we have to see it in order to believe it? Yes, we carry within us temptation but, by the grace of God, we carry within us transfiguration as well.