The Transfiguration Teaches Us That the Cross Leads to Glory

User’s Guide to the Second Sunday of Lent

Carl Bloch, ‘Transfiguration of Jesus,’ 1872
Carl Bloch, ‘Transfiguration of Jesus,’ 1872 (photo: Public Domain)

Sunday, March 5, is the Second Sunday in Lent. Mass readings: Genesis 12:1-4a; Psalm 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22; 2 Timothy 1:8b-10; Matthew 17:1-9.

The Second Sunday of Lent always features the Transfiguration. It is commonly held that Jesus did this to prepare his apostles for the difficult days ahead. But the Lord is showing us what the end shall be. 

There is a cross to get through but there is glory on the other side. 

Consider the following: 


Purpose of Trials 

“Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.” 

We often pass over the fact that they had to climb that mountain — no easy task. We have here a symbol of the cross and of struggle. 

A climb up the rough side of the mountain was likely exhausting, testing their strength. This climb reminds us of life. Often, we have had to climb, to endure, to have our strength tested. Perhaps it was the climb of earning a college degree. Perhaps it was the climb of raising children or building a career. 

What of real value do you have that did not come at the price of a climb, of effort and struggle? 


Productiveness of Trials 

“And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them … ‘Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’” 

All the climbing has paid off. Now comes the fruit of all that hard work. The Lord gives them a glimpse of glory! They get to see the glory that Jesus has always had with the Father. He is dazzlingly bright. 

Yes, all the climbing has paid off. Now comes the glory, the life, the reward for endurance and struggle. Our climbs and crosses have brought us life! St. Paul said, that “this momentary affliction is producing for us a weight of glory beyond all compare” (2 Corinthians 4:14). He also said, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). 

So here is the productiveness of trials: We are not carrying the crosses of this life to no purpose. They bring fruitfulness to us here and produce glory for us in the life to come. Most of our greatest blessings in this life come from years of crosses and efforts, and these blessings are a small foretaste of the glories to be revealed to us in heaven. 


The Pattern of Trials 

“As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.” 

Although Peter wanted to stay, Jesus makes it clear that they must go down the mountain for the time being and walk a very dark valley to another hill (Golgotha); for now, the pattern must repeat.

 The cross has led to glory, but more crosses are needed before the final glory. An old spiritual says, “We are climbing Jacob’s ladder … every round goes higher, higher, soldiers of the cross!” This is our life. 

“Always carrying within our self the dying of Christ so that the life of Christ may be manifest in us” (2 Corinthians 4:10). 

One can almost imagine a spiral staircase as the rounds get higher: We die with Christ so as to live with him. Each time we come back around to the cross, or back around to glory, we are one round higher and one level closer to final glory.