Genesis 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18
Jesus stands before them with glistening garments. Considered his closest companions, James, John, and Peter, attempt to take in what is happening before their eyes — bewildered and terrified. Their friend, Master, and Messiah, Jesus, transfigures and stands beside Moses and Elijah. Moses, one of the greatest of the lawgivers, alongside Elijah one of the greatest of the prophets. Together with Jesus, the greatest gift from God and the fulfillment of both the law and the prophets. The Apostles are stunned at what is happening before them. Their hearts perhaps still reeling from trying to fully grasp Jesus’s recent teaching, “that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise from the dead” (Mark 8:31).
How often have we been baffled, bewildered, or terrified by our current circumstances or the uncertainty of our future? To maintain peace, to stay the course of hope, we must see before us, just as these three Apostles — Jesus was still there with them. Jesus, named Emmanuel, “God is with us” (Matthew 1:23). We are not called to make sense but to pay attention, see with eyes of faith, and believe. He will never abandon nor forsake us.
Peter, James, and John were witnesses to God’s glory. A witness is one who first sees, then shows. Jesus had asked them to hold everything they had witnessed in their hearts until the appropriate time to show. However, even with this knowledge, James and Peter would falter in their strength of faith, it would be only John at the foot of the cross on that horrific (yet Good) Friday. Remarkably in this gospel passage, we also see the trinity in its glory together — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — as at the time of the Lord’s baptism. Jesus in his glorified state, the Spirit in the cloud that overshadows them, and the voice of God coming from that cloud announcing, reaffirming, that this is His beloved Son, to whom we should listen.
Peter’s response at the Transfiguration illustrates he is not a man without failings, as he says to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here; let’s make three tabernacles, one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” Yes, Peter is not perfect, and we should take great comfort in that. The beauty, glory, and majesty were revealed to him, this imperfect man. His first reaction to erect tents and freeze the moment clearly shows he is missing the entire point of what Jesus is trying to show him. Yet, we know that Jesus will come to forgive and use Peter to establish the Church. Through the grace of God and the power of the Resurrection, Peter will eventually see.
During our Lenten journey, we, too, are shown the glory of God and given an outpouring of grace. However confused we may be about our circumstances or whatever we lack in understanding our faith, we can also eventually see with eyes of faith and learn to listen to Jesus.
Peter, John, and James would eventually fulfill the plans God had for them in not only witnessing but showing and evangelizing the world. We, too, have a role to play in evangelization. No matter how beautiful our faith is, it is not given merely for us; once the Lord transforms our hearts, we must go forward and share that good news with others. Once we have witnessed God in our own lives, when we have seen what He can do and have grown to believe — we now must show others. Just as the three Apostles shared the same Good News in their unique way, we too must discern how to be a witness in our life and times.
This moment in today’s Gospel is not just a moment in their history but in every Christian’s. It reveals the glory of Jesus and 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.