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This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. This Feast, which falls on August 6th, supplants the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Matthew, Mark and Luke all include the account of the Transfiguration in their Gospels. The main outline of the story is the same in all three of these Gospels. In each account, Jesus and three of his apostles, Peter, James and John, go to a mountain (the Mount of the Transfiguration.) On the mountain, Jesus is transfigured before their eyes, his face changed and his clothes became dazzlingly white. Then Moses and the prophet Elijah appeared next to him and he conversed with them. Jesus is then called “Son” by a voice in the sky, assumed to be God the Father, as at the Baptism of Jesus. In Matthew and Mark’s account, Jesus then told his disciples not to tell anyone about the experience “until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
For Peter, James and John, the Transfiguration was a glimpse of the glory that awaited them. And while the experience of the Transfiguration was unique to them, I believe we all have had or will have “transfiguring moments” in our lives. These are brief, fleeting moments of God’s grace where we get a glimpse of something “more” or something “beyond” ourselves. These moments do not occur at our initiative, and are not under our control. They are gifts from God, and like Peter, while we might want to prolong or stay in these moments, we cannot. Rather, they are meant to give us hope for the journey and confidence that despite any pain and hardship we might experience in the present --- if we remain steadfast in our faith --- ultimately we will share in the glory of God.
Our first reading for this Feast of the Transfiguration, is taken from the Book of the Prophet Daniel. We don’t often read from this book. It is Apocalyptic literature which uses highly stylized and symbolic language to make the point that despite any troubles in the present moment, ultimately there will be a time of vindication.
Our second reading for this Feast is taken from the second Letter of Saint Peter. In the section we read today Peter reminds us: “………. we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that unique declaration came to him from the majestic glory, “This is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
Questions for Reflection and/or Discussion:
- When have you experienced a “transfiguring moment” in your life?
- What do you remember most from this experience?
- Apocalyptic literature is not meant to be taken literally. It is special type of literature that uses exaggerated, symbolic language to make a particular point. Have you ever read this kind of literature other than in the Bible?