I have always seen Jesus’ Transfiguration as a preparation for us and for Him to approach and endure the sufferings of His Passion and Death.
In the beginning of this gospel passage, Luke states that the reason Jesus went up the mountain was “to pray.” Consequently, everything that follows teaches us the way to pray and the effects of prayer in our lives.
Let us begin with the first effect of prayer: “While he was praying, his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white.” Sometimes in our efforts to pray we focus on what we want to ask or that for which we are grateful, but we forget that one of the direct effects of our prayer is reflected in our lives. Prayer transforms us. How? Understanding prayer as the spiritual activity that allows us to dialogue or to be in touch with God, the more we pray, the more we become familiar with the Lord. Slowly, we become like the One with whom we converse. This is why spiritual masters have taught that in considering a person’s spirituality, one key aspect to observe is prayer.
In this time of Lent, we need to ask ourselves about our prayer life. Do we pray? Do we pray often? Do we work to improve our prayer? The answers to these questions will indicate our commitment to our spiritual life and, in the end, we will see if we are transformed through our prayers.
We should also consider the topics or elements of Jesus’ prayer. If we understand that prayer is a dialogue with God or, on occasion, with the saints, who are messengers of God, we will then understand what occurred on the mountain of the Lord’s Transfiguration: “And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.” The topic of conversation is “his exodus.” Other translations render this as “passing/departure.” In Jewish Greek, this is another word for death: “departure [from life].” They were speaking about Jesus’ Death. We should also consider this aspect of our lives, though it may seem strange and sad to us. I am not encouraging us to think and pray about our death (but, yes, we should do this from time to time) but to include in our prayer the sufferings, the moments of difficulty that each of us encounters. Otherwise, how will we have the strength to overcome them, if we have not meditated on them, meditated on how to deal with problems when they arrive? On occasion, most importantly, we have not placed the totality of our lives – our happiness and our sufferings – in the hands of God. At times, it is only in the clear appreciation of things that may or even will happen to us that we can understand and prepare ourselves for those moments.
In these simple elements, we find the answer to the question, “Why do we pray?” We pray to be transformed by the other Person (God) with whom we interact. We pray to have a clear vision of our lives and its events, in order to understand and we prepare for them when various times in our lives arrive. I encourage you to remember that this time of Lent is a time of prayer.