“Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah” (Luke 9:33).
The Transfiguration experience was an occasion to strengthen the faith of the apostles so that in the face of the forthcoming trials and persecution, they may have something to hold on to; something to still assure them that Jesus is God.
The transfiguration of Jesus was a moment of illumination. From the very moment Jesus took flesh in the womb of Mary, Jesus had always been like this, bright dazzling white, shining. John the Baptist must have seen Jesus when he leapt in his mother’s womb at the sound of Mary’s greeting. Hundreds of years earlier, Daniel saw Jesus and today’s first reading was his attempt to describe what he saw.
You see, at the mount of transfiguration, Jesus did not really change, He only allowed Peter, James and John to see Him as He truly is; Jesus just opened their eyes for a few moments and they saw exactly what Daniel saw in our first reading. They saw Jesus in His glory. They also saw Moses and Elijah. The event was an eye-opener for them. No wonder, Peter writes in our second reading that: “We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were EYEWITNESSES of His majesty…”
Peter is saying that Christianity is not some cock and bull story. The Christian message is backed up with lots and lots of evidence enough to convince any scientist. We have proofs for all that we believe. We know what we are saying when we say God came into the midst of men and died on the cross for us.
Sometimes, God allows certain things to happen to us so that our eyes can open to behold certain deep truths we may not have known before. We experience transfigurations in different ways; events that bring us to our knees and increase our love and devotion to God.
From that day on Peter, James and John would never for once doubt Jesus again, the picture of the transfiguration remained in their heads and they would keep going back to it when they had cause to doubt. What is your own transfiguration experience? What is that one thing that happened in the past that made you absolutely convinced that God is not some figment of the imagination, but a real father who is there?
It could be a prayer answered when you least expected. It could be your survival from a near-death experience. It could be an apparition you saw. Whatever it is, know that God allowed it to happen for a purpose; to strengthen your faith against tough times which must surely come. Don’t throw away your transfiguration experience. Fall back to it often and often again, let it be your constant testimony so that you would always know that God exists and He cares for you.
In the Transfiguration experience of Peter, James and John, God preached a very powerful sermon to us: “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him” (Luke 9:35). Do I take out time to listen to Jesus daily? Do I long to hear from Jesus as much as I long to hear from social media, from CNN, Aljazeera, BBC and so on? Do I pay attention to Jesus as much as I pay attention to that sweet gossip of my colleagues at work or in school?
One way to find out if you have been listening to Jesus is to ask yourself: “What is Jesus saying in my situation right now?” “What is Jesus saying about what is going on in my country today?” We are turning to the media to know what is happening, but the one person we should be listening to is Jesus.
We must not leave out the fact the transfiguration happened in the context of prayer. Daniel’s visions also happened in the context of his prayer. Prayer is a doorway towards another world, yes, prayer opens us up into deeper realms, it practically lifts us out of our physical surrounding into the company of the Saints and Angels in God’s presence.
The Transfiguration concludes with Jesus telling His disciples not to tell anyone what they saw until after His resurrection. According to one of the early Church Fathers Origen; “Now Jesus wishes not those things which relate to His glory to be spoken of before His passion. Hence it follows, and they kept it close. For men would have been offended, especially the multitude, if they saw Him crucified who had been so glorified.”
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, open my eyes to see you as you are, open my ears to listen to you and open my heart to enter fully into your presence when I pray, Amen.
Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu