We are told by the gospel writers that while he was praying on mount Tabor, Jesus’ face had turned bright as the sun, and his garments white as the flash of light. The sleepy disciples who came along with Jesus for a time of prayer were awe struck at the sight and at once recognized that their teacher was not just an outstanding human being but was indeed divine. This was a moment of revelation and it happened to disciples who were close to Jesus. It is possible that if we do as we sing, ‘walk with Jesus and talk with Jesus along life’s narrow way,’ we may be treated to amazing insights and realities about him which would enrich our life and faith.
The brightness at transfiguration of Jesus is attributed to God’s glory that settled on Jesus. The gospels go further to say that in fact Jesus Christ was himself God’s glory that lived amidst us. At the same time the New Testament indicates that the glory seen at transfiguration of Jesus and during his ascension was only partial. The full splendour of his glory, his power and might will be demonstrated in his Second Coming.
Light, fire, cloud, voice and angels serve as mediating agents in the scriptures. They indicate the close communion that prevailed in the past between God and humans in the world. With increased secularization today, we tend to reach out to God only when we face troubles, fall sick, face threats to life or when we desperately seek favours. Let us do all that we can to regain the lost sense of sacredness in our midst.
The immediate purpose of the transfiguration of Jesus becomes evident when we examine the discourse that took place between Jesus and his disciples before the event. Jesus is repeatedly disclosing to them that he was determined to tread the path of the cross, which involved suffering, death and resurrection. Like most of us who fail to understand the import of words and events as and when they are spoken or happen, the disciples went about ignoring the significance of Jesus’ words. The presence of Moses and Elizah, givers and guardians of their faith and the mysterious voice reconfirmed that the way of the cross was indeed God’s choice for Jesus and the only path for human salvation.
While we await our own transfiguration at the end of life, we are taught to lead transfigured lives in the present world. In contrast to the wishes of his disciples to settle down in blissful state in the mountain of transfiguration, Jesus urged them to go down the mountain to meet the needs of the people and to heal the world. We are asked to seek the power of endurance and the power to transform the world. This necessarily involves freeing ourselves from all that holds us back, whether it is our ideas, our reputations, our possessions, and even our beloved ones. Only when we are prepared to lose that can we gain.
Prayer: O Lord our God who has transfigured our Lord Jesus, brighten our hearts with your love and help us spend ourselves in lightening the lives of the needy in the world. Amen