Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord
(Daniel 7:9-10.13-14; II Peter 1:16-19; Matthew 17:1-9)
Some people may feel confused about Christopher Columbus. As little children, they were taught that he was a hero bravely sailing into the unknown for the purpose of discovery. But as the 500th anniversary of his historic voyage approached, they were told that their history lessons were a whitewash and that in truth he was a marauder and even a fool thinking he reached China. Recently a historian from Stanford University studied the pertinent documents of the times and Columbus’ personal papers. She gives objective testimony that he was indeed a great man with sensitivity toward the people he encountered in his journeys. The Transfiguration provides similar testimony for, at least, Peter, James, and John who had been puzzled about Jesus.
Although Peter has already acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God, neither he nor the others had a proper concept of what the terms mean. Peter in fact was unwilling to accept that being God’s anointed entails undergoing suffering and rejection for the sake of the people. With the Transfiguration on the mountain the three disciples receive more insight into Jesus’ divine mission. Peter’s desire to build three booths is not a wild gesture, but an understanding that the Messiah has indeed arrived as it was understood that the people would live in tents upon his coming as they had done during the forty year sojourn in Sinai. True the three descend the mountain wondering what Jesus means by saying that he will rise from the dead, but they no longer refute him when he speaks of dying.
Living in a secular age we sometimes feel the ground of our faith swerving beneath us. Yet there are moments in all of our lives when we feel the solidity of our beliefs like mountain boulders. These are Transfiguration experiences, and we must hold on to them and indeed tell others about them. They will assist us in being faithful to the Lord who gave himself entirely for our salvation.