What has been the happiest day or experience of your life? What has been the saddest day or experience of your life? With those questions in mind, let us take a look at the feast we are celebrating today, the Transfiguration of the Lord.
It should come as no surprise that the Transfiguration took place on a mountaintop. The top of a mountain gives us a wider view and an overall view. It helps us to see the pattern in things and puts things into perspective. It also raises the spirits. We are in the presence of great majesty and beauty. We feel close to God. In fact, we feel that we are in the presence of God.
On Mount Tabor the sky was bright as Jesus was at prayer. As he prayed his face shone and his clothes became white as snow. On one side there stood Moses, the Law-giver; on the other side Elijah, the greatest of the prophets. The cloud that overshadowed them was a symbol of God’s presence (recall the cloud of the Exodus event). And from the cloud the Father’s voice was heard, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” With that, Peter exclaimed, “It is good for us to be here!”
Peter wanted to stay on the mountain top and build a safe haven there, away from all trouble and danger. The reason for the transfiguration experience was not to provide an escape from the dangers of life but to comfort and strengthen Jesus and the apostles so that they would be able to go back down and face that which would come.
The event prepared them for another day and another hill. This time the sky would be dark. The face of Jesus would be covered with sweat and blood. His clothes would not dazzle but be cruelly stripped from his body. His companions would be two criminals. There would be no voice from heaven, only the voices of those who would mock and ridicule him. The disciple’s lives would be shattered and they would scatter.
The only thing in common would be Jesus praying, “Father, forgive them.” It is clear that what sustained Jesus in both the dark and the bright moments was his intimate relationship with the Father.
All of us have those moments when we are on Mount Tabor, moments of joy and exaltation. But then we also have those moments when we are on the mount of Calvary. On Tabor we glimpse the beauty of heaven, are offered encouragement, and like Peter say, “It is good for us to be here.” When we experience Calvary, and sorrow comes our way, we need the courage to say, “Your will be done.” Do you now understand why this Feast of the Transfiguration is so important for us to reflect on?
— Father Dennis, August 6, 2017