Readings: Genesis 12: 1-4A; Psalm 33, R. Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.; 2 Timothy 1:8B-10; Gospel – Matthew 17:1-9
My late spiritual director often told me that life-changing experiences of grace are few and far in between. Such experiences though are so replete with grace that these few moments can last us for a long time, if not for a lifetime.
Today’s Gospel narrative, The Transfiguration of Jesus, is one such experience of grace. It revealed Jesus’ divinity to Peter, James and John. It was to them–and to us as represented by them–that this life-changing experience of grace was shown in Jesus’ Transfiguration.
There are three graces that define this experience. One, it integrates our past and present. Two, as a result of the first grace, it projects the integrated present into the future. Three, it provides us a horizon within which we are to live out the grace, while at the same time providing a specific context.
In the Transfiguration, you have Moses and Elijah witnessing to Jesus. It is what we would call now an endorsement of Jesus as he makes his way to Jerusalem to fulfill the new Exodus. Moses represented the law and Elijah the prophet, two of the important and great pillars in the story of the Jewish faith and culture.
The past, represented by Moses and Elijah, gives its benediction to the present, Jesus as the Messiah. The journey of the Chosen People now converges in Jesus at this moment of the Transfiguration, and everything falls into place.
From this moment on, all roads lead to Jerusalem, the city of destiny where Jesus is to fulfill his mission on the Cross and in the Resurrection, which Jesus had predicted on several occasions prior to this moment.
At this moment, we also see the future horizon when the Father declares to all, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” (Matthew 17: 5)
This is the horizon of the Paschal Mystery where on the Cross Jesus shows his being the beloved Son because of his loving obedience. In the Resurrection, we experience how pleased the Father is in his Son’s loving obedience.
The horizon does not end here. Jesus spells out the details of the horizon which is the context within which this grace was to be lived. Peter wanted to stay on the mountain and to build three booths for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. Jesus, however, “rejects” the idea and brings them back to the world, down from the mountain.
This is the pattern of our formation journey, most especially this Lent. Our journey is towards integration, bringing together the story of our past, the slender threads of our experiences that may have seemed disjointed, random, without rhyme or reason.
Yet this moment comes in our life when everything falls into place and in an instance the threads come together into a magnificent tapestry of our life, not a thread wasted and all integrated into a whole that becomes our horizon.
Our life has integrity and our story comes together, our past making sense now because of a future that becomes clear to us or at least begins to appear to us.
Jesus in the Transfiguration makes it clear that we must come down from the mountain; that our life-changing experience of grace is to be brought out into the world where it is to be lived and our mission fulfilled.
We all have this moment. The moment when our mission becomes clear and that everything in the past makes sense in this moment of clarity in the present.
The future, likewise, becomes clear. It is to live out this mission in our day to day life, out into the world and make this world better.