Gospel according to Matthew 17: 1-9
Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother,
and led them up a high mountain by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them;
his face shone like the sun
and his clothes became white as light.
And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them,
conversing with him.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Lord, it is good that we are here.
If you wish, I will make three tents here,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, behold,
a bright cloud cast a shadow over them,
then from the cloud came a voice that said,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased;
listen to him.”
When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate
and were very much afraid.
But Jesus came and touched them, saying,
“Rise, and do not be afraid.”
And when the disciples raised their eyes,
they saw no one else but Jesus alone.
As they were coming down from the mountain,
Jesus charged them,
“Do not tell the vision to anyone
until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
Today in the celebration of the Holy Mass, we read Matthew’s account of the Transfiguration of Christ. We find Jesus has taken His three closest disciples up to the mountain to reveal to them His Transfiguration…Peter… whom He has just named as Rock of His Church… and James (the first apostle who will die )and John (the last apostle to die), to reveal to them, His glorified self… a glimpse into the future of His promised resurrection…to help prepare them for the agony that is coming next.
Remember, Jesus has just previously told His disciples that He would be killed and that He must suffer greatly at the hands of their leaders…which has filled the disciples with a fear of what they do not understand…Jesus, has already had to rebuke Peter for suggesting that He be spared from death. It is clear that the apostles do not yet understand the enormity of what is about to happen. Jesus knows this…so He has taken them up to the mountain…away from the distractions of the world, to reveal to them His future glory…reveal to them, His fulfillment of the Word of God…that He is the Word of God.
On the mountain, the three disciples see in Jesus,the glory of God’s Kingdom. It shines out of Him in a brilliant blaze of light! The disciples have never seen such a spectacular sight… it is overwhelming! High on the mountain, they are overshadowed by God’s holy cloud. Pope Benedict XVI explains it: “When Moses (the law) and Elijah (the prophet ) join Jesus on the mountain, they (the disciples) realize that the True Feast of 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.”
The fact that the two figures of Moses and Elijah speak of Christ’s departure, illustrates that the Law and the Prophets point forward to Christ…to the Messiah…and His sufferings. It is meant to strengthen the disciples’ faith…revealing to the disciples in a powerful way, that the divine hand of God is at work in the events that Jesus is to undergo. Peter, somehow misses the fullness of the message being revealed…and God sends a cloud which comes over them, and with a loud voice says : “This is my Son, with Whom I am well pleased, listen to Him.” The disciples fall prostrate on the ground, but are told by Jesus to get up and not be afraid. They are alone once more…
This supernatural experience was given to the disciples as a temporary grace to help sustain them through the coming trials…Sustain them through the agony and Passion of Jesus Christ… which they are about to witness and which was coming very soon. It was a glimpse of heaven..to offer them a bit of hope in the dark days that were to befall them.
This Gospel shows how the good Lord works with each of His disciples..with each of His faithful…He is ready, with whatever graces we need…whatever glimpse of heaven, we may be afforded to get us through our difficult tasks while we make our way upon this earth, struggling to do His Will, striving to fulfill our obligations to Him… He will never abandon us on our journey… every time that we have felt alone…it was us who abandoned Him.
Let us pray: Dear Lord, Help us to focus on Your Will for us, so that we may turn away from our own inclinations that separate us from You. Help us, to recognize the graces you extend us, on a daily basis, and help us to understand whatever it is You choose to reveal to us on the mountains of our lives. May these revelations sustain us in our own trails and disappointments, and serve as a constant reminder, of your great love, for each of us. Amen.