The Gospel for today’s Mass presents us with the Transfiguration of our Lord, which took place on a mountain where Jesus offered a small glimpse of His glory to three of His apostles: Peter, James, and John. This story begins with similarities to Jesus’ forty days in the desert. Jesus took these three apostles away by themselves for a time of solitude. They didn’t journey into the desert, but they did climb a mountain, which was undoubtedly laborious.
What these apostles would encounter on that mountain was far from a desert experience of hunger, thirst, heat, and temptation. Instead, in what must have seemed a surreal and instantaneous flash of grace, Moses and Elijah appeared and were speaking to Jesus. Jesus Himself became radiant with light, His clothing dazzling white. Then the Voice of the Father thundered from Heaven. Not only were the eyes of these apostles dazzled, but their spirits were also stirred, for they knew they were seeing something they could have never imagined seeing. They were receiving the consoling gift of a glimpse of Jesus’ glory.
Though this mountaintop experience was radically different from Jesus’ time in the desert, it is an experience that would prove invaluable to the apostles when they entered their future deserts. This glimpse of glory was meant to instill hope in their hearts when they would need it the most. As they left the mountain, Jesus told them not to tell anyone about their experience until the Son of Man was raised from the dead. Jesus knew that at that time, after He had been killed and raised from the dead, these apostles and many of His followers would endure persecution and even death. Therefore, Jesus gave them this consoling vision to help them endure the crosses they would one day face.
What “mountaintop” experience have you had with our Lord? Was there a moment on a retreat, a parish mission, or a time of prayer, when Jesus manifested Himself to you in a powerful way? When that happens, we want to keep that sense of God’s closeness, just as the apostles did on the mountain. But they had to come down and face Jesus’ Cross, and ultimately their own. The same is true for us. These moments of great consolation usually last only for a time. Jesus gives these graces as a small taste of what awaits us in Heaven in order to strengthen us to embrace His Cross with Him in whatever form it comes into our lives.
Ponder any experience you have had that left you deeply consoled by God. Has an experience like that given you strength during difficult times? As you ponder any such experience you have had, be reminded of its purpose. It was a gift that should forever remind you of God’s glory so that its remembrance will inspire hope in you when you need hope the most.
My transfigured Lord, You gave Your apostles a small but most glorious glimpse of Your divinity. This gift strengthened them as they endured Your suffering and death, as well as their own. Please give me a glimpse of Your glory so that I will be able to hold onto that knowledge of Who You are when I need it the most. Jesus, I trust in You.