While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” (Matt 17:5).
The phrase ‘My Beloved Son’ was used by God, whose voice was heard, twice: first after the Baptism of Jesus Christ, after which he was led to the wilderness for forty days – preparing for ministry and overcoming serious temptations; and second at the Transfiguration, after he had foretold his imminent suffering and death, and indeed this event was followed by final mission activities, the Triumphal Entry and the passion week. It seems God spoke at these two strategic points to encourage His Son as he entered critical points of His mission, but also to confirm to the world the identity of the Messiah.
We are beginning a season of Lent on Ash Wednesday 01st Mar 2017, which lasts forty days and culminates in the Passion Week and then the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection. It is now time to seek the Lord; it is time to return to the Lord with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning (Est 4:3, Joel 2:12). In this season of Lent we earnestly seek to be reconciled to God, to possess our promised inheritance, and to be prepared for faithful ministry. In launching out into ministry responsibility, the retreat and strengthening by God himself are indispensable.
Moses received the Ten Commandments after 40 days of fasting and devotion – alone with God – at Mount Horeb (also called Sinai) (Ex 34:28). This was the foundation of the rest of his ministry. Elijah received instructions at Mount Horeb about his final phase of ministry and his successor after 40 days of fasting and seeking God (1Kings 19:7-8). This would establish his legacy. In both these instances, there is a clear setting of oneself apart for a time in order to shut off the noise of everyday life and be able to listen to the voice of God. This resonates with Jesus Christ’s discipline before the voice said, ‘My Beloved Son’.
Jesus launched his ministry after 40 days of prayer and fasting and defeating the devil in the Judean wilderness (Matt 4:1-2, 17). Yes, even Jesus Christ had his moments of self-denial and suffering. There is an important command for us to obey as we recall the voice of God about his Son just before he gave himself up to suffer and die for our salvation: Listen to Him! I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; by reading and meditating on God’s holy word, and listening to Jesus Christ.
God bless you.