So, on this feast of the Transfiguration, let us take a good look at what is before our very eyes today, at what the disciples Peter, James and John saw and experienced when they went up the high mountain with Jesus and he was transfigured before their very eyes.
First, notice they went up a high mountain. Since the Evangelist Matthew was writing to a predominantly Jewish community of Christians, this mention of the high mountain is very important, because another very important religious figure in the history of the Jews went up a mountain: Moses, the great mediator of the covenant Law that God revealed to the Jews when they were in the early stage of their sojourn in the desert, after their liberation from slavery in Egypt. So, Matthew the evangelist wants us to know that already at this stage of his life, even before he suffered crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus was the new mediator of a new covenant and a new law: A covenant and a law he would fulfill by dying and by being raised and glorified. A covenant and a law that would never be broken again, because would plant this Covenant, this Law in our hearts: In other words, in our very being!
On this mountain, the Lord our God reveals the glory of the Christ: A glory that only God can give, for it is only of God and for those who love and learn to love. With Jesus, besides our great father Moses, is the prophet Elijah, considered the greatest of the prophets, because he was imbued by God with a great share of God’s prophetic charism, a spirit of righteousness and courage in the service of the Lord. Tradition has it Elijah was taken up to heaven at the end of his life in a fiery chariot, and that before the Messiah of God would come to save the world and reveal the holiness of God for all to see, that this great prophet Elijah would first appear to usher in the coming of the Messiah.
Notice, too, how the disciples react after the transfiguration of Jesus is over: Peter asks Jesus if he should build three shelters, or huts, one each for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. Poor Peter, in his desire to do something with the glory of Jesus, which God has just revealed, Peter offers to build a dwelling place for this glory. But the transfiguration, the glory and the light of God in Christ is not bound by time: God’s light, God’s glory, the light and the glory of Christ now, cannot be bound or contained or measured: Nevertheless, God’s holy dwelling place, planted in us by God, is right before our very eyes: In the center of our being, in our heart, in our soul and in our mind. Each of us, all of us, carry what the disciples Peter, James and John have just witnessed: The very glory and the wisdom of the presence of the Lord.
Only fear limits our conscious choice to dwell in this glory of the presence of the Lord. Also, to choose to dwell in the very light and glory of the presence of Christ now is to be moved toward Love. It is in the spirit of this Love of Christ, the glory of Christ, which is God’s glory, that we can finally face our negativity, our fears and what has become destructive in our lives, for whatever negativity and destructiveness we act on, and act out, makes us destructive and impatient and intolerant. In the light of the presence of the Lord Christ, we can subdue our restless minds and finally see reality for what it is: Right before our very eyes, without imposing upon life, upon others, a needless meaning that can never do anything but bring us more restlessness, more agitation, more fear. Only Love can drive out and transform and transfigure our fear of failing, our fear of not measuring up to what God asks of us, or our very human, very restless fear of our own mortality.
So today, in Christ, we too, are transfigured, not with visions or ethereal experiences, but with the very presence of the Glory of Christ, which now dwells in us and can calm our fear in these times of fear. With the holy disciples, and with Christ himself, we come down the mountain and work as they did to develop and practice love, and transform our fear, so that through us, the world can hear the message and truth of God, the message that always begins with us to rising up in response to Christ to accept from Christ mercy, and kindness, and Love.