TRANSFIGURATION (Cycle A)
This mystery in the life of Christ is so important that we read this gospel two times a year: on the 2nd Sunday of Lent and on August 6th. [And on Cycle C, it is read a third time on Sat. 6th Week in Ord. Time, which is today Feb. 19.] While Jesus was still walking among them, the apostles tended to take him as simply human with extraordinary powers. The transfiguration was intended to help them see him beyond what the human eye can see. This was a moment in his human existence that Jesus allowed the chosen apostles, and us, to see the divinity in his Person. The splendor of the divinity was allowed to pierce through the humanity and be made visible. That should have been enough for Peter, James and John to stand firm on Good Friday through Holy Saturday until they see him again on Easter Sunday. Yet like any other man they were frightened, confused, insecure. They all ran away and abandoned Jesus. Peter even denied the Lord when he found himself in a tight situation. The command not to tell anyone “until the Son of Man rises from the dead” should have lighted their path in those days of darkness for, indeed, he was to rise from the dead! We who contemplate these events should be firmer in our faith in the Person of Jesus and in his promise that we will share in his resurrection. Jesus is our God who suffers and dies like us and who assures us conquest and triumph by our share in his resurrection.
The presence of Elijah and Moses is a confirmation that the Law and the Prophets are fulfilled in Jesus. Jesus brings to completion all that God had promised in the Torah and the Prophets. But there is something we must take note concerning Elijah and Moses: these two men had close encounter with Yahweh on Mt. Sinai. Exodus 33: 18-23 narrates how Moses asked to see the Lord’s face and in that encounter the Lord said “I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by.” What intimacy is here manifested for Moses, to be protected by the hand of God! Elijah’s encounter with Yahweh is recounted in 1 Kg 19: 9-14. “Go outside…the Lord will be passing by… There was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.” Moses and Elijah had both a close encounter with Yahweh, the Lord, on the great mountain. They are now on this mountain of the Transfiguration in a close encounter with Jesus, the Lord. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets.
A third point to consider is the statement: “Listen to him.” This command brings us back to Dt. 18: 18-19: “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kinsmen, and will put my words into his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command him. If any man will not listen to my words which he speaks in my name, I will make him answer for it.” Jn 12:49 quotes Jesus saying: “I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak…. So what I say, I say as the Father told me.” Again Jn 14:24 quotes Jesus say: “Yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me.” Jesus is the prophet sent by Yahweh; he is the Word of God. We must listen to him not to any human interpretation of his word. “Listen to him.” This command is for all of us. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. What he has taught by word and example we must heed, and we shall be assured of eternal life. We are sure, because on the mountain we saw his glory.
Jesus is the human face of God, the meeting of the divine and the human. In his splendor we see our own destiny. Thus we find joy and confidence despite the difficulty and insecurity of daily living. Jesus is our way to God. Jesus is the light who gives meaning and value to our human existence. Listening to him is listening to God; following him is following God.
Lord Jesus, I do believe that you and the Father are one. Help my unbelief. Make me firm when I experience my own passion and death. Let me fix my eyes on your glory. Permit not that trials and hardships stop me from following you. -0-