The transfiguration narrative is all about the theophany, God’s manifestation in Christ Jesus. The images which the gospel present help to capture this reality: the mountain setting, the disciples being overcome by deep sleep, the voice from the cloud, the appearance of Moses and Elijah, significantly, Jesus’ altered face and his glistening white clothing. Evidently, Jesus’ resurrected state is prefigured in this episode. Everything that happens during this glorious experience is ecstatic leading Peter to exclaim, “Master, it is good to be here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” Scripture informs us that “Peter did not know what he was saying.” This makes the entire encounter even more captivating. It can only be the Holy Spirit speaking through Peter. His self-disclosure is inspired by a transformation of the mind possessed by the presence of Jesus. Peter feels good staying with Christ.
What does the voice of the Father that speaks from the cloud at the transfiguration mean? The voice reminds us that Christ is “the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15) and that his mission is to bring humanity into the love of the Trinity. The same voice speaks at the baptism of Jesus announcing, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:16-17). The Voice of the Father is inviting us to listen to Jesus just as God invited Abram into the covenant relationship in the Old Testament. In his magnanimity, God has given us his only begotten Son to restore us into the divine love.
Peter cannot simply hold his emotions, so he exclaims, “Master it is good that we are here.” This sums up the beauty and joy of knowing Christ. In life different experiences produce what might seem to make our bodies feel “good.” Most of these experiences remain on the realm of bodily gratification. For instance, drinking relaxes the body and makes the indivdual tipsy. Those who do drugs describe their experience of feeling high as wonderful. Sexual experiences create feelings of pleasurable ecstasy. Partying and dancing make individuals feel good. These moments produce only momentary pleasures which fade as soon as those experiences are over. Second, these reside on the sensual satisfaction which never satisfy the lasting desires of happiness.
Peter’s exclamation tells us about the reality of experiencing heaven. The disciples enjoy enormous privileges in this encounter. They see Moses and Elijah. The entire atmosphere changes which put them to sleep and comfort. Jesus’ face shines whiter than anything they have known. There definitely could not have been a better feeling. This is what God brings in our lives. David experienced this joy which made him to dance before the ark of the Lord. David writes, “A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else” (Ps. 84:10). Are you able to find a deep abiding relationship with God that makes you want to stay with him forever? Are you aware that God has got you covered and longs that you spend time with him?
A young lady went shopping in a nearby grocery store and walked through the shelves picking up items on her shopping list. Suddenly, she pushed down a stack of glasses (cups) on the shelf. The glasses smashed and splashed all over the floor. The lady is scared at the cost of the damage done. As she bent down to pick the glasses in tears, one of the store attendants rushed at the scene and asked the lady not to worry. The lady began to cry remorsefully. She expected to be billed for her damage but the attendant said to her, “We got you covered. The insurance paid for it.” The lady couldn’t believe it and for the rest of her life, she shopped in that store. She just wished to remain there. That’s what God did for us in Christ Jesus. The price of our sins has been paid in full.
Pope Paul VI said to his audience, "Christ is beauty, human and divine beauty, the beauty of reality, of truth, of life. The figure of Christ presents, over and above the charm of his merciful gentleness, an aspect which is grave and strong, formidable, if you like, when dealing with cowardice, hypocrisy, injustice and cruelty, but never lacking a sovereign aura of love" (General Audience, 13 January 1971; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 21 January 1971, p. 12). Peter reminds us of this beauty which is transmitted to us through being with the Lord. The beauty of worship and its joy transforms our daily encounters no matter how ugly they may seem. Christ’s presence conquers our fears, anxieties, pains, sorrows, loss, and disappointment.
During this period of Lent, it is good to remind yourself to be with Christ. God is standing right behind you. Like the grocery attendant, God has always got you covered. You only need to step aside from the noise and get closer to him. Your transfiguration experience is your personal encounter with Jesus so you can hear his voice. Let’s step aside from sin, hatred, envy, greed, lies, and betrayal. Let’s step aside from attractions of the flesh and from anger. Then we can spend more time with Jesus on the mountain where his voice speaks clearly inviting us into his peace, joy, and mercy. Yes, it is indeed good to be with God all the days of our lives.
Readings: 1st- Gen. 15:5-12. 17-18; 2nd- Phil. 3:17-4:1; Gospel- Lk. 9:28b-36