Most of us are familiar with the title, “The Transfiguration” for this Gospel from Saint Matthew. It is a gospel with a feeling of awe and wonder, don’t you agree?. Imagine the emotions of Peter, and the brothers, James and John. I say emotions, because intellectually how could they comprehend the magnificent event they witnessed on this mountain top? How could these simple fishermen absorb the sight of the human Jesus, glowing with Celestial brightness, speaking to Moses and Elijah? I’m a little envious, how about you? Would you like to have been up on that mountain with them? Would it not be a profound gift to see all that they saw? And yet, they were sworn to secrecy, “Do not tell the vision to anyone, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”(Matt 17:9) Could you be a silent witness?
The major Old Testament figures, Moses and Elijah are before Jesus and the three Apostles. For these Jewish men, Moses was the representative of the Law and Elijah was a representative of the faith-filled prophets. They are blessed to see the leader of the Jew’s Exodus, receiver of the Commandments. They have Elijah before them too! This is the Prophet, under Divine Revelation, performed many, many miracles for the conversion of the foolish Israelites. No wonder Peter did not want to leave. How would you react? Their earthly Jesus has become a glowing figure and radiates His Divinity. They know Jesus is the Messiah and fulfillment of the Old Law. Did you know, Jesus had just recently predicted that He will be tried, condemned, and executed, but on the third day after His death, He will rise again. So, Jesus is helping these favored followers to acquire firmer believe in His words, “ I will leave the world and go back to the Father.” (John 16:28). Christ realizing their small human minds, is giving them more than words to recall, He is giving them the binary gift of both seeing Him radiant in appearance and hearing the Voice of God the Father’ “ This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased, listen to Him.” (Matt 17:5) This mountain top event of Matthew’s account is for us, a reminder, a foreshadowing of the Last Judgement. We will be going up the mountain and the radiant Trinity will shine upon us. Hopefully we will be worthy and enter the Kingdom.
Jesus knew His Apostles needed to witness His Transfiguration. They would need it to fortify their understanding of the empty tomb and Jesus’ Resurrection from the dead. They saw Him in celestial radiance and heard the Father’s loving voice. They are reassured of where He has gone. And Jesus knows of our human need to have the gift of a personal encounter, like the Apostles had. When does He come to us? When does He personally share His Godliness and human self with us? As we may realize, it is in the gift of the Eucharist. A gift that can be received daily!