Readings: 1st – Dn 7:9-10, 13-14, Pt 1:16-19, Gospel – Mt 17:1-9
Theme: Things to Come
Today we celebrate the Transfiguration of Jesus on Mt. Tabor.
What is the Transfiguration?
The Transfiguration is Jesus revealing himself in his glorified body as He will be in his second coming at the end of the age.
The Transfiguration is to be given to only a few, as was foretold by Jesus in Luke’s gospel just prior to the Transfiguration narrative where Jesus tells his disciples, “There are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.” The Kingdom of God is revealed to Peter, James and John in the Transfiguration of Jesus, thus fulfilling this passage.
The Transfiguration is the revelation that Jesus is the sum of the Old Testament through the appearance of Moses as “The Law” and Elijah as “The Prophet.” For the disciples, “Tabernacles has come. On the mountain they learn that Jesus himself is the living Torah, the complete Word of God. On the mountain they see the ‘power’of the Kingdom that is coming in Christ Jesus.”1 “This foreshadows Jesus’ own explanation, on the road to Emmaus, of the Scriptures pointing to himself.”2
1 – Jesus of Nazareth, vol. 1 p. 317
2 – National Catholic Register – “10 Things You need to Know about Jesus’ Transfiguration”
The Transfiguration is given to the disciples in order to strengthen them for the coming passion and death of Jesus. The fact that they had to ascend the mountain prefigures the ascent Jesus will take up to Calvary to the cross later.
The Transfiguration is the explanation of Peter’s misunderstanding of the event by thinking that Moses and Elijah were staying, and that God’s saving plan has been completed. The tents Peter proposes represent the final home (the Tent of Meeting) of God after the exodus from Egypt was completed in the desert. Peter thought the life of the disciples would become much easier now that the fullness of their Messiah had come, and the task completed. He couldn’t be further from the truth. The Transfiguration is only a temporary revelation “as a momentary disclosure of His divine Glory”3 to strengthen them and prepare them for what is coming. God corrects Peter’s assumption by proclaiming that “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased: Listen to him.” Up to this point, Jesus had been trying to tell the disciples about his pending passion, but they struggled to understand what it was and try to prevent it. God is very direct and says they need to truly LISTEN to Jesus for true salvation. Jesus’ passage from this earthly world was prefigured by the Jews passage from bondage in Egypt, where they went over the desert and into the promised land. Jesus too, would pass over the bondage of sin and death into the promised land of Heaven showing us the way.
3 – Stations of The Cross Catholic Radio Network – Catholic Q&A: “The Transfiguration of the Lord” by Fr. Rick Poblocki
The Transfiguration is a spiritual gift of grace from God to the three disciples. So it is for some of us, not all, who receive spiritual graces from God. It is a gift, but we must know that these gifts are temporary, meant to strengthen our faith. We should not be afraid or resentful when they cease. We should be joyful and share that experience with others. The permanent glory revealed by Jesus in His Transfiguration will come at the end of the age.
The Transfiguration is the revelation of and witnessing by the disciples of the Holy Trinity in the voice who is God, in His Son Jesus, and in the Holy Spirit as the cloud. The witness of the Holy Trinity on Earth reveals to us that the Messiah doesn’t bring Earthly riches, comfort and freedom from our enemies as the early Jews believed, rather, “Our Lord wanted them to learn that He would come to His glory through suffering and death, in order to bring them the better happiness of freedom from sin and the grace of everlasting life.”4
We too will share in Christ’s glory at the end of the age when He will change our lowly bodies to be like His glorious body as revealed in the Transfiguration. But the Transfiguration also warns us that “it is through many persecutions that we must enter the Kingdom of God.”5 Thus, as Christ would suffer His passion and death in order to be glorified in His resurrection, so it will be with all of us who believe that our passion and death will lead us to the Glory of the Resurrection with Jesus in Heaven.
4 – Stations of The Cross Catholic Radio Network – Catholic Q&A: “The Transfiguration of the Lord” by Fr. Rick Poblocki
5 – Acts of the Apostles, 14:22