Speaking to thousands who crowded St. Peters square on a bright Sunday morning, Pope Benedict XVI thanked all those who remained close in spirit during this last week when he and the Roman curia participated in the annual Lenten Spiritual exercises, presided by French Cardinal Albert Vanhoye.
Before praying the Angelus, the Pope offered a brief reflection on the Gospel for the second Sunday of Lent, which invites us to reflect on "the extraordinary event of the Transfiguration," which follows upon last week's Gospel of Jesus' temptation in the desert.
These first two Sundays, the Pope said, are "two pillars" that on which leans the whole edifice of Lent leading up to Easter, and thus of the entire Christian life, which essentially consists in the Easter dynamism from death to life.
"Taken together, both of these episodes anticipate the Pascal mystery: Jesus' battle against temptation is a great prelude to the Passion, while the light of his transfigured body anticipates the glory of the Resurrection. In one part we see Jesus as fully man, even sharing with us the temptation, in the other part we contemplate Jesus as the son of God, the divinization of our humanity," Pope Benedict said.
“The mountain, Tabor, as with Sinai, is the place of the presence of God. It is an elevated place and with respect to daily existence, a place where we breathe the pure air of creation. It is a place of prayer, where we stand in the presence of God, as both Moses and Elijah, that where they match nearness to Jesus transfigured and speak with him of the exodus that awaits him from Jerusalem.”
“To enter into his glory, we must listen to Jesus, follow him to the cross and carry in our hearts, the hope of the Resurrection. We are,” he said, “transfigured in hope."
After the Angelus, the Holy Father mentioned his ongoing concern with the tensions in Lebanon, which has been without a leader for three months. He urged all to continue to pray, and expressed his solidarity in prayer with the bishops of Lebanon, while reiterating the need for dialogue in order to find a solution.
He then greeted all the English-speaking visitors present, especially the group of pilgrims from Saint Ansgar's Cathedral in Copenhagen.
"I pray that your visit to Rome may strengthen your faith and deepen your love for Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. In this Sunday's Gospel, we hear how Jesus was transfigured in the presence of his three closest followers, Peter, James and John. They were granted a glimpse of Christ in glory, and they heard the voice of the Father urging them to listen to his beloved Son. As we continue our Lenten journey, we renew our resolve to listen attentively to the Son of God, and we draw comfort and hope from the revelation of his glory. Upon all of you here today, and upon your families and loved ones at home, I invoke God's abundant blessings."