Dear Friends in Christ,
Today we are given a glimpse into another world – a heavenly, eternal world, far beyond this world but mysteriously right at the heart of it. Jesus was transfigured before the three chosen disciples – Peter, James & John. Jesus’ face and clothes became dazzling white and we are told, by these reliable witnesses, that Elijah and Moses appeared among them. The Two Old Testament prophets spoke with the Lord about his forthcoming ‘departure, which he would accomplish at Jerusalem’. God the Father also spoke as a voice from heaven saying, @this is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him’.
What do you make of this incident in Jesus’ life? What is its meaning, it significance? Well, in that holy moment Jesus disclosed his divine glory. He also revealed that his glory was achieved first and foremost by embracing the shame of the cross. Jesus kissed the cross in order to enter the glory of heaven. It also presents us, as St. Thomas Aquinas explained, with a revelation of God as Trinity: ‘The whole Trinity appeared: The Father in the voice; the Son in the man; the Spirit in the shining cloud.’ This revelation of God as Trinity also occurred on the threshold of other significant moments in Jesus’ life such as his baptism and his Passion.
Jesus’ transfiguration can be understood as the sacrament of our future resurrection from the dead. Through the grace of baptism, we somehow share in the resurrection of Jesus. The Transfiguration is a foretaste of the life to come, when our lowly bodies will be changed to be like his glorious heavenly body. However, we too must embrace the shame of the cross in our lives for, as Paul taught, ‘We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God. We. Like Peter prefer the mountain-top experiences, but St. Augustine exhorts us: ‘Peter did not yet understand this when he wanted to remain with Christ on the mountain. It has been reserved for you, Peter, but for after death. For now, Jesus says, “Go down to toil on earth, serve on earth, to be scorned and crucified on earth. Life goes down to be killed; Bread goes down to suffer hunger; the Way goes down to be exhausted on his journey; the Spring goes down to suffer thirst; and you refuse to suffer?”’