The Feast of the Transfiguration


The Feast of the Transfiguration

Most religions in the world hold mountains to be very sacred. The human response to a sacred mountain is exceptionally diverse. A sacred mountain symbolizes the human desire for a theophany, a quest for a new relationship between human beings and the divine being. Mountains and hills are mentioned in the Bible more than 500 times. Sacred mountains are often seen as a site of revelation and inspiration. In the Old Testament, the mountains of Sinai and Zion are the most significant. For example, Mount Sinai is the place where Moses received the gift of the Ten Commandants. The Prophet Muhammed is said to have received his first revelation on Mount Noor.

Three important scenes of our Lord’s life took place on mountains: In the first, he preached the Beatitudes; in the second, which is today’s Gospel, he was transfigured on Mount Tabor, and the third was on Mount Calvary where he offered his life for all of us.

The primary reason I believe for taking these three disciples to Mount Tabor was to teach them the lesson of the Cross and to rectify their false conception of the Messiah. Just before Jesus took these three disciples to the Mount Tabor, he spoke to them about his own suffering. He told them that he would suffer greatly, be rejected by the elders, be killed and then rise on the third day. This caused so much fear for the disciples that they got utterly confused. In fact, Peter had vehemently protested against the Cross, while James and John had been throne-seekers. All three disciples would later on sleep in the garden of Gethsemane during Jesus’ agony. And so, to help them believe in Jesus’ Calvary, they had to experience the glory of Jesus that shone beyond the scandal of the Cross.

Climbing the mountain itself is a very important step toward our spiritual journey. There is a popular saying that goes, “In life without pain, there is no gain.” Therefore, they climbed up to the mountain top and then witnessed Jesus becoming transfigured before them as the glory of His divinity flashed through. Witnessing His glory, they realized then and there that Jesus was more than a great teacher, more than a charismatic personality, more than a reformer, more than just a healer. They definitely realised at this point that Jesus was the Son of God. The voice of the Father said, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him.” This means that Jesus’ teaching is God’s teaching and Jesus’ forgiveness is God’s forgiveness. This is another important reason why the Church was so careful to preserve the words and gestures of Jesus in the Gospels and the teachings of His Apostles in the rest of the New Testament.

Dear brothers and sisters, our future is not a grave but eternal life. St. Paul says in his second letter to the Corinthians that although we may have a pound of pain here on earth, tons of glory await us in heaven. We might have a cup of suffering here, but gallons of grace are ahead of us. The promise of Christ’s transfiguration is the promise of a great world and a greater life that is our real future.

For those who are hikers, the spectacular scenery from a mountain top makes all the effort ascending the peak more than worthwhile. It is the same with our life. Responding to Jesus’ call to us to a particular vocation, to follow him up the mountain of our own particular suffering for his sake and the sake of the Gospel, whatever it might be, promises a future full of purpose and meaning in this life, and glory in the next.

By Susai Jesu, OMI
OMI Lacombe Canada – Vocation Team

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