(Feast of the Transfiguration)
August 6, 2018
Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother, John,
and led them up a high mountain by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them;
his face shone like the sun
and his clothes became white as light.
And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them,
conversing with him.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Lord, it is good that we are here.
If you wish, I will make three tents here,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, behold,
a bright cloud cast a shadow over them,
then from the cloud came a voice that said,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased;
listen to him.”
When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate
and were very much afraid.
But Jesus came and touched them, saying,
“Rise, and do not be afraid.”
And when the disciples raised their eyes,
they saw no one else but Jesus alone.
As they were coming down from the mountain,
Jesus charged them,
“Do not tell the vision to anyone
until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
There is so much to talk about with the Transfiguration which is today’s Feast Day but two things come to mind.
As I walked into the church today prior to Mass there was this pretty little butterfly flitting around the door. I was thinking about today’s Gospel and the change Jesus went through – and here is a butterfly seemingly wanting to enter the church.
What a representation of the Transfiguration.
First, when the Bible says they climb a mountain, any “they”, you should be ready for something important. Abraham and Isaac, Moses, Elijah, Isaiah and so many others climbed a mountain because God told them to do so. Jesus climbs several times – today for example.
Second, today Jesus metamorphoses from the man these three Apostles knew, into the Divine.
Until the Transfiguration, he was one of them. Sure, he was a great teacher, he was a great healer, he was a man who could do amazing things – but he was a man – a friend. Until today, that is.
We had this bush in our backyard, I don’t know the scientific name, we called it a butterfly bush. The butterflies would come to the bush for some reason and lay their eggs, which turned into caterpillars which spun cocoons that a beautiful butterfly eventually emerged from.
Today, we see Jesus become the beautiful butterfly. Forever changed, not just himself. Jesus wasn’t the only one Transfigured today. Those three men – Peter, James and John – all were transfigured and thus the World.
Today is important for all of us because God spoke.
Jesus had been talking so much about the Kingdom of Heaven that when Peter heard God, he thought this was it. He wanted to build booths in the Jewish tradition of the Feast of Tabernacles, where they built booths for shelter and sharing. Something great had happened and Peter wanted to mark the spot with booths.
The second thing, is the story arc of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Up until today, it has been about his great deeds and sharing the love of God and introducing the people to the Kingdom of Heaven. All of it had been uplifting and promising.
After today, it becomes about his return to Jerusalem and what awaits him there. He has offended the power structure and they are afraid of him. Remember Caiaphas says the night Jesus suffers, “It is better that one man die than all of Israel.”
So we begin the downward arc of Jesus’ time on earth. It’s important for us because he knew where this was leading. Thus, the telling of the Apostles to say nothing until he would rise from the dead.
It was never about Jesus – the man or God – it was always about us.