‘This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!’ Second Sunday of Lent, Year A

Transfiguration, Fra Angelico [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)

Gospel Matthew 17:1-9 (New Revised  Standard Version, Catholic Edition, Canada) 

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

The Upper Basilica, Lourdes [Wikipedia]

Like Peter, James and John, I caught a glimpse of something of the Purity of God on a hill. Tradition tells us that Jesus was transfigured on Mount Tabor, Israel. My ‘Mount Tabor’ was a hotel at the top of a hill in Lourdes, France.

During Holy Week 2001 I took part in the international pilgrimage of Faith and Light to Lourdes which takes place every ten years. Faith and Light was born of a desire to help people with an intellectual disability and their families find their place within the Church and society. This was the main purpose of the organized pilgrimage to Lourdes at Easter of 1971. The founders of the movement were Jean Vanier and Marie-Hélène Mathieu. 

Jean Vanier is also the founder of L’Arche. In the video below he speaks about the beginnings of that, not as a project or movement but as a covenant with two individuals with learning disabilities and their own dreams, Raphael Simi and Philippe Seux.

Jean Vanier speaks about the early days of L’Arche and finding God in others
 
I was based in Britain at the time and traveled with a group from the north of England. However, before I left the Philippines for Britain in 2000 I had been invited to be chaplain to the small contingent from the Philippines, as I had been on the fringes of Faith and Light in the Philippines between 1992 and 2000. The Filipinos were staying in a hotel at a distance from the shrine and at the top of a hill. There was also a group of Faith and Light pilgrims from Hong Kong, including Fr Giosue Bonzi PIME, an Italian, in the same hotel. (I was with the English pilgrims in a hotel close to the shrine.)
Chinese ceramic plate, circa 1680 [Wikipedia]
 
One of those from Hong Kong was Dorothy, a girl of about eleven with Down Syndrome (Trisomy 21). Her father died suddenly when she was very young. Dorothy’s face had the delicate beauty of Chinese ceramics. But she had an extraordinary inner beauty, a purity that could have come only from God. Though I had no Cantonese and she had no English, we were able to communicate simply by looking at one another. She showed complete trust in me. She had a vulnerability that called forth the deepest respect.
Fr Giosue Bonzi PIME with Dorothy, now an adult, in Hong Kong

In Irish there’s an expression used for a person with a severe mental or learning disability, duine le Dia, ‘a person with God’. Dorothy was such for me, in a very full sense of that phrase: she was a clear expression of the beauty and of the purity of God for me.

The Opening Prayer of today’s Mass reads:
O God, who have commanded us
to listen to your beloved Son,
be pleased, we pray,
to nourish us inwardly by your word,
that, with spiritual sight made pure,
we may rejoice to behold your glory.
Through . . .
When Peter, James and John went up Mount Tabor with Jesus they had no idea that would see the divinity of Jesus there. They had no idea they would hear God the Father say This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him! The Entrance Antiphon [below], taken from Psalm 26 [27], prays, It is your face, O Lord, that I seek; hide not your face from me. I have no doubt that I saw the face of the Lord in that young girl with Down Syndrome from Hong Kong whom I met in Lourdes in Holy Week 2001.
Jesus may speak to us at any time, unexpectedly, as he revealed his presence to me in that hotel at the top of a hill in Lourdes. May we make the Opening Prayer our own so that, with spiritual sight made pure, we may rejoice to behold your glory.
Antiphona ad introitum  Cf. Ps 26[27]:8-9; [1]
Tibi dixit cor meum:
quæsívi vultum tuum,
vultum tuum, Dómine, requíram:
ne avértas fáciem tuam a me.
[Dóminus illuminátio mea,
et salus mea: quem timébo?
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto.
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, 
et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
Tibi dixit cor meum:
quæsívi vultum tuum,
vultum tuum, Dómine, requíram:
ne avértas fáciem tuam a me.]
Entrance Antiphon
Of you my heart has spoken:
Seek his face.
It is your face, O Lord, that I seek;
hide not your face from me.
[The Lord is my light,
and my salvation. Whom should I fear?
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy spirit.
As it was, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.
Of you my heart has spoken:
Seek his face.
It is your face, O Lord, that I seek;

hide not your face from me.]

The text in bold is used in the Ordinary Form of the Mass and the longer text in the Extraordinary Form, though it may also be used in the Ordinary Form especially if chanted.

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