18th Saturday in Ordinary Time
Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord
The ‘majestic glory’ revealed in the transfiguration reveals ‘the power and coming’ of our Lord Jesus Christ—it is a kind of ‘flash forward’ to the Second Coming.
The coming of the Lord—which is not altogether in the future but which has begun and is underway—he is coming now!—the coming of the Lord is not a cleverly devised myth of human construction but something that was witnessed, something experienced first-hand and passed on.
This experience of the Lord’s coming in power is witnessed not only by Peter, James and John but by the ‘prophetic word’ of the (old testament) scriptures…which are lit up from within by the radiance shining on the face of Jesus. This new meaning to the old testament is symbolized by the presence of Elijah and Moses …who are glorified by the light of Christ, and who encourage and affirm him as he begins his exodus.
2nd Peter provides a kind of miniature theology of transfiguration in a dense cluster of poetic images: the cosmic lightning flash on Mt Tabor becomes a tiny lamp in the surrounding darkness…like the Sun in a cloud, the Word become flesh…
On Easter night we see the ‘majestic glory’ reduced to the flickering light of the Paschal candle—it is the Christian time: with the very beginning of spring, the first hint of thaw in the cold night air, before sunrise but just as the Morning star appears in the sky, and we know the night is over.
The appearance of the morning star is to the brilliant light of the sun at daybreak… as the light of Jesus’ resurrection is to his power and coming on the last day.
With the reference to the ‘morning star’ 2nd Peter zooms way out… from fragile lamp-light in a dark crowded room… back to planetary scale, and cosmic dimensions… BUT
…the star appears in the vast night sky ‘of our hearts’. Regal, radiant, alien, the star appears within us, like Jesus in the upper room, and our constricted, anxious heart opens into the vast stillness of a night sky.
Peter saw the ‘majestic glory’ firsthand…and his witness has itself become part of the ‘prophetic word’; it transfigures the meaning of the lives of Moses, Elijah and the entire old testament…and points ahead to the glorious return of Christ at the end of time.
As we attend to this prophetic word, our one lamp in the darkness of this world, the morning star begins to rise in our hearts. As we ponder the word, a new and vast interiority opens up within: the night becomes as day for us, the one morning star that never sets appears high above, yet deep within us…
…and we know that the night is nearly over …and the true light has begun to shine.