Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18
Philippians 3:17—4:1 or Philippians 3:20—4:1
Jesus guided Peter, James, and John up the mountain to pray. There Jesus was transfigured before them — showing his glorified self with his face changing in appearance and his clothes becoming dazzling white — a foreshadowing his heavenly appearance. What a glorious moment for all to behold, and for us two thousand years later to witness as we read the detailed description offered through the Scriptures. The Lord’s “face shone like the sun,” (Matthew 17:2), and “His garments became white as light” (Matthew 17:2); “dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them” (Mark 9:3).
As if the sight of their transfigured friend and master were not enough, suddenly standing alongside Jesus were Moses and Elijah. These men represented the law and the prophets —Moses, one of the greatest of the lawgivers, alongside Elijah, one of the greatest of the prophets. Both figures from salvation history shared encounters with God on a holy mountain and experienced an exodus. Both represented significant moments in salvation history and prefigured Jesus’ mission.
How could the three apostles not doubt what their eyes observed? The mystical works of our unfathomable God are often unexplainable and even inconceivable, yet that does not make them any less magnificently true! We may not be witnesses to Jesus transfigured upon the mountain, but that does not mean we do not glimpse his glory as we gaze upon him in the Eucharist. How often have we looked upon the consecrated Host, which we know through faith to be the body, blood, soul, and divinity of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and doubted? We behold an ordinary wafer of bread, our senses fight to accept what we cannot see, and we ask whether Jesus is truly present before us.
Peter, James, and John, followers, disciples, and friends of God incarnate, were now privileged to stand in the presence of the living God in all his heavenly glory. As they stood bewildered, God’s voice broke through a cloud overshadowing them, with the words, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” Jesus had asked them to hold everything they had witnessed in their hearts until the appropriate time to share. Because the Apostles and countless disciples witnessed, believed, and shared, we too can now hold fast to our hope in the joyful faith that the One we behold in the Eucharist is indeed Jesus — actually present and not a symbol.
This transfiguring moment is more than history, something special only for those who participated, but holds meaning for every Christian who continues to hear the Good News. It shows the glory of God revealed in the Son, Jesus, and furthermore provides a peek into what awaits all who persevere in faith — accepting the law and the prophecies. In believing Jesus is the beloved Son of God, in whom God is well pleased and opening our ears and hearts to listen to him.
During our Lenten journey, we, too, are shown the glory of God and given an outpouring of grace. As we participate in Mass or visit Jesus in the Eucharist, the Holy Spirit will help us see Who appears before us if we quiet our hearts and listen. These sweet glimpses shed light and offer anchors of hope even when the world around us seems dark and confused. Regardless of our circumstances or whatever we lack in understanding our faith — God is always with us, especially when in the presence of the Eucharist. Although Peter may have been slightly off in his assessment of the situation that day, he did get one thing right, “Master, it is good that we are here.” Master, it is very good, you are here!