The Transfiguration of Jesus

Today we celebrate the Transfiguration of Jesus, which is the finishing point of His public life. The readings all point to Jesus as the one empowered and sent to us by God the Father.

In the Second Reading, Peter makes a comparison of the prophetic message – a reference to God the Father’s voice commending Jesus to us – as “a lamp shining in a dark place.” Then, at the end of the reading, Peter changes the image from the external world to the internal world.

We might have expected Peter simply to say that we should keep our eyes on the lamp in the dark place until the morning star rises, and gives light to the whole place. However, that is not what Peter says. Instead, Peter refers to the light from the morning star rising “in our hearts.”

By doing this, Peter shifted the image to the internal world. Peter’s reference to the morning star rising in our hearts represents our faith in Christ Transfigured – the Christ of Glory. This light given to our heart, our mind, our every choice, then undoubtedly enlightens the external room, and the external world of our lives. With our faith in Christ Transfigured, we see creation and circumstances much more clearly, because we know who Jesus Christ is and what He is calling us to do.
Knowing this, we can then apply this strengthening presence of Christ to the challenges and the sacrifices we are required to make in order for us to say “Yes” to God’s call.

Matthew’s Gospel account of the Transfiguration confirms that Jesus is the Son of God and points to the fulfillment of the prediction that Jesus will come in His Father’s glory at the end of the age.

“And, he (Jesus) was transfigured before them, His face shone like
the sun and His clothes became white as light.” ~ Gospel Matthew 17:2
This dazzling brightness, emanating from Jesus’ whole body was produced by an interior shining of His Divinity.

Jesus allowed three of His disciples – Peter, James, and his brother John to see Him transfigured as a means to strengthen them for the terrible struggle they were to witnesses in the Garden of Gethsemane, His crucifixion, and for the suffering that they also would later endure for proclaiming the Good News of Salvation. It is worthy to note that Jesus separated these same three disciples from the others on the Thursday evening after the ‘Last Supper’ when He went to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus also wanted to strengthen them by having them reflect on who Jesus was, who was calling them, and who would accompany them each day of their lives.

Sometimes we think of Jesus just as a role model or teacher. However, this may not always be sufficient to sustain us for the sacrifices that our faith in God requires. Only when we see Jesus in the light of His Transfiguration and with an understanding of His identity as God, can we begin to understand that our strength does not simply come from His example, but from His living presence among us and within us. Only then can we begin to understand that Jesus, the Son of God lives in us and loves through us. As followers of Jesus, it is up to us to reflect Christ’s light into the gloom of the world caused by the darkness of sin.