On Preparing for the Passion

«We all have need of interior light to overcome life’s trials»

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 5, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

This Sunday, the second of Lent, is the Sunday of the Transfiguration of Christ. In fact, the Lenten itinerary, after having invited us to follow Jesus in the desert, to face and conquer the temptations with him, proposes that we climb the “mountain” of prayer, to contemplate the glorious light of God upon his human face. The episode of Christ’s transfiguration is testified to in a unified way by the evangelists Matthew, Mark and Luke. There are two essential elements: first of all, Jesus ascends a high mountain with his disciples Peter, James and John and there “he was transfigured before them» (Mark 9:2), his face and his vesture radiate a glistening light while next to him appeared Moses and Elijah; secondly, a cloud descended upon the top of the mountain and from it came a voice that said: “This is my Son, my beloved; listen to him!” (Mark 9:7). So, the light and the voice: the divine light that shone upon Jesus’ face, and the voice of the heavenly Father that witnesses to him and commands that he be heard.

The mystery of the Transfiguration must not be detached from the context of the journey that Jesus is undertaking. He is now decisively set on the accomplishment of his mission, knowing full well that to reach the resurrection he must pass through the passion and death on the cross. He spoke about this openly with the disciples, who did not understand it however; indeed, they rejected this prospect, because they did not think as God thinks but as men do (cf. Mark 16:23). This is why Jesus takes three of them with him up the mountain and reveals his divine glory, the splendor of Truth and Love. Jesus wants this light to illumine their hearts when they pass through the thick darkness of his passion and death, when the scandal of the cross will be too much for them. God is light, and Jesus wants to provide his most intimate friends with an experience of this light that lives in him. Thus, after this event, he will be an interior light in them, able to protect them from the assaults of darkness. Even in the darkest night Jesus is the lamp that never goes out. St. Augustine, summing up this mystery with a very beautiful expression, says: “That which is for the eyes of our body the sun that we see, [Christ] is for the eyes of the heart” (Sermo 78, 2: PL 38, 490).

Dear brothers and sisters, we all have need of interior light to overcome life’s trials. This light comes from God, and it is Christ who bestows it, he, in whom dwells the fullness of divinity (cf. Colossians 2:9). Let us climb the mountain of prayer together with Jesus and, contemplating his countenance full of love and truth, let ourselves be filled interiorly by his light. Let us ask the Virgin Mary, our guide in the journey of faith, to help us to live this experience in the time of Lent, finding every day some moment for silent prayer and for listening to the Word of God.

[Following the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present in various languages. In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at this Angelus prayer, especially students from the United States of America. In today’s Gospel, Jesus is transfigured, and shows his disciples that his Passion will lead to the Resurrection. By God’s grace, may our Lenten observance lead to a renewal of his radiance within us. Upon you and your loved ones, I invoke God’s abundant blessings!

[And concluding in Italian he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday, a good week. Thank you for your presence. Have a good Sunday!

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]
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