When we go to the movies there are previews of upcoming attractions. On the holy mountain Peter, James, and John got a preview of heaven because they were able to see the beatific vision—they were given a face-to-face encounter with the living God.
Jesus wanted for them to hear, to see, to experience for themselves who He was—His true identity. From the mouth of the Father came the words, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” If Peter, James and John had entertained any doubts about the divinity of Jesus, they were laid to rest on the mountain. For a few moments they received a preview of heaven—the beatific vision. However, when we fast-forward to the crucifixion, they all ran away. If they were convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, the Savior, the Son of God, why did they run? If they had heard the voice from the cloud affirming that Jesus is the beloved Son, why did they abandon Him? Because we all have selective memory. We tend to remember what is convenient according to our situation. The law of self-preservation was more powerful than faith at the crucifixion. They ran because they feared for their life. The Apostles forgot all about the preview of heaven, about the voice, about the divinity of Christ. All they could think about was staying alive. So they lost sight of the big picture. They forgot that we are just passing through this world and that our home is in heaven. The Apostles did not know that Jesus was going to have to die. He told them, over and over, but they didn’t believe Him.
Like all of us, they were distracted. They had no idea about how Jesus would die, much less that He would be raised from the dead. Later, when resurrection accounts became known and Jesus appeared in His glorified body, did His words come to make sense. Meanwhile, many of the teachings went in one ear and came out the other—sort of what happens to us. Not until death touches our lives do we try to sort out what our faith really means. The majority of what we profess is information—from our parents, CCD, Bible reading. However, not until we suffer the pain of having to let go of someone that we love can we be truly transformed.
The big selling point for the early Christians was the promise of eternal life. Never having to die sounded real good. Jesus said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood will not die, but will live forever.” Our Lord never told lies. Yet, from the head to the heart is a long way. There will always be resistance to walk into the unknown. We prefer the familiar. That’s the reason that Jesus went before us—to show us the way—to turn on the light—so that we would not be afraid. What happened to Jesus will happen to us. We are challenged to embrace our cross—whatever the shape, whatever the size. One day we will have to surrender completely into the arms of the Father. Just as Jesus was raised from the dead, we too shall be given a glorified body. What happened on the mountain should give us much consolation. At the moment that we close our eyes in death we shall have the same vision as Peter, James and John. But we will not have to come down from the mountain. The reason that we were created was to look at the beauty of God for all eternity. Starts here in the Blessed Sacrament. Holy Communion is as close as we can get to Jesus on this side of eternity.
Our heart must be open to listen to the voice of the Beloved Son—that in spite of the mistakes we have made, we are loved without conditions. Never forget the promise.