Understanding the Transfiguration

Luke 9: 28-36
Dn 7:9-10.13-14 / Ps 97 / 2 Pt 1:16-19

While He was praying His face changed in appearance…
(Luke 9:29)

Lord God, we believe that all of us
Must undergo a transformation,
Endure the hardships, climb the heights, just
Like Jesus’ own transfiguration.

Jesus took Peter, John and James with Him, and went up on the mountain to pray. As he was praying, His countenance changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. The apostles, who were resting after the long trek, awoke and saw Jesus in His glory, with Moses and Elijah conversing with Him. They spoke about His departure, which would happen in Jerusalem. As they were about to leave, Peter told Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what he was saying, when suddenly, a cloud came and overshadowed them. They were terrified as a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Chosen Son; listen to him!” After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone.

Reflection

The transfiguration narrative found in the three synoptic gospels presaged the passion and death of our Lord Jesus, and it happened as much for the benefit of His closest apostles as well as for His own divine assurance and fortification. The presence of Moses and Elijah on the mountain with Jesus affirmed His mission as the culmination of the Law and the Prophets, which these two figures represented. They fortified His human will to face the torment of Calvary according to the Father’s plan. Thus, when He had completed His mission, just before He ascended to heaven, Jesus told his disciples: “Everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets must be fulfilled” (Lk. 24:44).

The Transfiguration was the most powerful evidence of Jesus’ divinity, which served to convince His inner circle once and for all that His mission was not political. Their presence in the mountaintop with Moses and Elijah gave them hope that someday they would also reach the heights of the divine dwelling. Over time, the followers of Jesus would come to realize by the grace of this experience that God had to become man in order for human beings to become divine, and be likewise “transfigured”. Peter had a taste of this ‘rapture’ and wanted to stay in the mountain longer.

Last Saturday, most of the participants of our Christian Life Program #19 also had a whiff of this ethereal experience during the seminar’s Baptism in the Holy Spirit. At first the spiritual experience made them feel awkward or embarrassed (like Peter, who did not know what he was saying). But later on, as they discarded all inhibitions, some of them received the gift of tongues, and others succumbed to tears of joy. We are all assured that we will keep on growing in the Spirit after that ‘experience on God’s mountain’.

Thank You, Father, for the spiritual experience of discovering that we too can experience the divine. Grant us the grace to endure the long trek that we must take in order to reach our own transfiguration. We love Your heights, but it is in the plains where we must prove our worth, and work for Your kingdom. Amen.

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