Feast of the Transfiguration of The Lord
Have you ever had it where you’ve known someone for a while, but then they do something amazing or say something surprising and you have the sense that you are seeing them, really, for the first time? As a mother, I’ve had that experience with my kids. I’m quite used to my 6-year-old son being crazy (just yesterday, he figured out how to climb up the wall in the public library), so my expectation of what will come out of his mouth is generally silly, crazy 6-year-old-boy remarks. But every now and then he will say something extremely insightful or profound and knock me off my feet, and I look at him and think “Who ARE you??” And as a youth minister, I’ve had this experience with teens I’ve known for years. One boy, in particular, I had always known to be shy and a bit socially awkward. But then he attended a weekend retreat with our youth ministry and got on stage for the talent show. When the music started, it was as if his entire persona transformed, becoming one with the insane rap beats he began to drop, causing the entire auditorium to get on their feet with a visceral reaction. I had no idea that kid could do that – that his voice could transform into surprisingly low tones and impressively rapid articulation. It caused me to wonder “Who ARE you? I had no idea you had that in you!” I’ve never heard such thunderous applause. When he revealed that aspect of his person, it was as if I saw him, really, for the first time.
The apostles Peter, James and John had a moment like that with Jesus in this Sunday’s gospel. Jesus took the 3 of them up a high mountain, and for a moment (it doesn’t say how long) revealed His divinity to them. He didn’t start dropping mad beats (or at least the gospel doesn’t record that if He did…) but He was physically transformed in a way that revealed who He truly is. “And He was transfigured before them; His face shone like the sun and His clothes became white as light.“ I can only imagine what was going on in Peter’s mind: “WAIT. Is this the same guy who was joking around with us at that wedding in Cana? The same guy we’ve been spending every hour with for the past couple years?” And if there could have been any doubt about who Jesus was after that, Moses and Elijah sort of casually appear from Heaven and the voice of God the Father thunders down “this is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.” I am sure Peter, James and John never saw Jesus the same way after this experience.
Peter reflects later (as we hear in the second reading) about witnessing this Transfiguration ,first hand, and hearing the “unique declaration” from the “majestic glory” of God. He assures us of the unmistakable reality that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and is, Himself, divine. As we know, Peter firmly planted his life in this precious revelation. He tells us in the most poetic way to recognize this truth too, to “be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” Have you ever been camping, and at night had only one small light to find your way? You cling to that light and depend on it. Let’s cling to the reality that Jesus is God and that His Divine life lives inside of you, too. And don’t be afraid to let God shine His bright-transfiguration-light through you, especially if you can rap for the glory of God. You might just end up blessing and surprising others, as well.