August 6, 2015
Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord
2 Peter 1: 16-19; Mark 9: 2-10
Today’s feast reminds us that God has not abandoned creation; that the body is not discarded as though it were an article of clothing, that it does not exit history as though it were a theatrical role. In the shadow of the Cross we know that creation moves toward transfiguration in this very way. Remember how the Lord invited His disciples to “Come away to a desert solitude where they could rest a while” (Mk. 6:31). He is the Good Shepherd Who knows our needs and provides for the needs of those He has called to Himself. By the grace of our Christian calling, Christ has invited us to follow Him into the wilderness where He can purify our hearts and make us reflect His glory.
We have been invited to follow Christ as He climbs the heights where we can encounter the Father in the communion of the Spirit. There, separated from the concerns of secular society, we gaze upon the radiance of Christ’s face, who is the image of God in the flesh. (Cf. 2 Cor. 4:4). For a moment we are surrounded by the splendor of uncreated light. For a moment, the veil is lifted and we are caught up in the glory of eternity.
The experience passes all too quickly and we are brought back to day-to-day reality, where we see only Jesus in the ordinariness of His human nature. The Transfiguration marks a decisive moment in the ministry of Jesus. It is a revelatory event which strengthens the faith in the disciples’ hearts, preparing them for the tragedy of the Cross and prefigures the glory of the Resurrection. Jesus’ divinity is lifted up on the cross. Only when we put the two together can we recognize the Beloved Son for Who He truly is. With the apostles we contemplate the transfigured face of Christ whose radiance brightens the countenance of the Church which is His Body. The more we are conformed to Christ we will manifest the glory of God to all the world.
Gazing at the transforming Glory, we come to know the great power that abides in the person of God’s beloved Son. The Word made Flesh makes tangible the love of the Father. As companions of the Incarnate Word we are invited to taste a sweetness, and feel a power, and see a glory that is truly divine. Immersion in the Scriptures disposes us for heavenly vision.
Deep in his heart the disciple must find his way by relying on the call of faith, by trusting in prayer, by seeking to encounter Jesus Christ. In this way we become men and women who are profoundly good, pure and mature. In the countenance of Jesus, the “image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15) and the reflection of the Father’s glory (cf. Heb 1:3), we glimpse the depths of an eternal and infinite love which is at the very root of our being. Those who let themselves be seized by this love cannot help abandoning everything to follow him (cf. Mk 1:16-20; 2:14; 10:21, 28). Like Saint Paul, they consider all else as loss “because of the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ”, by comparison with which they do not hesitate to count all things as “refuse”, in order that they “may gain Christ” (Phil 3:8).
The vision atop Mount Tabor is awesome and wonderful but God has more than bright lights to show us. The vision he confers gives direction as well as light. His direction is clear: “Listen to my Son.” Not only does this instruction complete the vision but it also ensures greater vision in the future. If we obey Jesus Christ, we will see greater things (Jn 1:50). If we follow him he will lead us to the light and we will see all things by it. But note this, where Jesus leads is not always easy. In order to obey the Father’s command that they listen to Jesus, they are going to have to accept Christ’s instruction that they follow him to Jerusalem and the cross. Only in this way will they see all things by the light of Easter glory. May God grant us vision, especially as we receive Him in Holy Communion and He is present substantially within our hearts and souls.