Last week we saw Jesus in the desert, tempted by the devil. Now He’s up on a mountain transfigured before His Apostles. First we saw His humanity and that He too was tempted. Now we see His divinity in all His glory. Confirmation that Jesus is both human and divine.
“Big deal” So what? We’ve always known that Jesus is both human and divine. Not exactly. During the first few centuries the Church struggled to define what we hold to be doctrine. The Transfiguration—which is now the 4th Luminous Mystery of the Rosary—is one of the passages in the Bible which supports the doctrine of the Hypostatic Union. However, unless such a mystery touches our lives, unless we can identify with the humanity and divinity of Christ—it means nothing. The three Apostles that went up to the mountain were never the same after their experience. Jesus was transfigured before them, but they were transformed. Naturally, they didn’t want to come down. Who want’s to go back to normal life after tasting a bit of heaven? Who want’s the “same old” every day stuff when they have seen the spectacular? So St. Peter had the marvelous idea to build three tents—three shrines—three monuments. They didn’t have cameras; but wanted to capture the moment. We all do the same. “How will you be remembered? What will folks say about you after you are gone?” The Apostles were not thinking so much about Jesus, Moses or Elijah—they wanted the world to know that they had seen the miracle. Quite a privilege—but not for publication. Jesus made Himself clear: “Do not tell this vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” Of course what Jesus said, made no sense. They had no idea of the upcoming Passion.
Just like we never know what tribulations will come our way. We know that they will come, but we avoid focusing on the pain. Jesus gives us previews of heaven too—in order to sustain us through the difficult times. If at the end of our life we were to make two lists—one of the good times and one of the bad times—the good would outnumber the bad by far. Even people who have a chronic disease, have moments of grace—somehow—some way. For God never abandons us in our pain. Never do we face a trail without the necessary strength to overcome.
An old “spiritual song” has the words, “Nobody knows the Trouble I’ve seen. Nobody knows but Jesus.” Indeed, we run out of words to describe our pain to others, especially the death of a spouse, a child, a parent. People can try to walk with us, but no one can walk in our shoes. The only one who truly knows is Jesus, because He’s walked our road. We do not have to explain human suffering to Him—“been there, done that.” And because the Lord knows, He is the only one who can help us to make sense out of the brokenness in our life. The cross will come—sooner or later—different shapes—different degrees—but the cross will come. We need to remember the mountain. No doubt that the Apostles remembered the mountain when Jesus was being crucified, and they cried, they ran, they were confused. Suffering can be redemptive, like the Passion of Christ, which paid for all the sins of humanity. Lent affords us the opportunity to join our sufferings to the wood of the cross. One day our suffering will be over.
The Eucharist is a taste of eternal life in God’s presence. Our goal is to be in heaven—to see what the Apostles saw for a few moments—we will see Him forever.