Jesus is transfigured on the mountain in the presence of Peter, James, and John.
Background on the Gospel Reading
For the second Sunday of Lent, we move from Jesus’ retreat to the desert to his Transfiguration. Each year on the first Sunday of Lent, our Gospel tells the story of Jesus’ temptation in the desert. On the second Sunday of Lent each year, we hear the story of Jesus’ Transfiguration.
The story of Jesus’ Transfiguration is told in the three Synoptic Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In each of those Gospels, the Transfiguration follows Jesus’ first prediction of his death and his teaching about the costs of discipleship. Jesus’ Transfiguration is a promise of Jesus’ glory, his Resurrection.
On a mountain in today’s reading, a voice affirms that Jesus is God’s Son in words reminiscent of the voice at Jesus’ baptism. In addition, the appearance of Moses and Elijah on the mountain connects this story with God’s relationship to the people of Israel. Moses and Elijah represent the Law and the Prophets, respectively. Together with Jesus, they represent God’s complete Word.
The Transfiguration occurs in the presence of just three of Jesus’ disciples: Peter, James, and John. In Matthew’s Gospel, those disciples are among the first whom Jesus calls. The three men are identified as an “inner circle” among Jesus’ disciples when Jesus asks them to accompany him to the Garden of Gethsemane just before his arrest.