Today we read about the Transfiguration of Jesus. To put it in context, it occurs eight days or so after the dialogue between Jesus and Peter where Peter calls Jesus the Messiah. Jesus then tells his disciples that to be true disciples they must take up their cross and follow him. He alludes to his own death when he tells them that there is no profit to gain the world if you lose yourself.
Jesus goes up to a mountain to pray with the apostles closest to him; Peter, James and John. Sadly, they fall asleep and almost miss the actual transfiguration. Has this ever happened to you in your life? Have you ever let worry or work or all the things we put before God cause us to not pay attention to him? We might say, “well, if I was with Jesus I’d pay attention”; but if we are honest with ourselves we often lose our focus.
Next, the apostles wake up and see Jesus; but he looks different than he did before and Moses and Elijah are with him. Moses is there to remind us of the law, as he gave God’s law to the Israelites. Elijah stands for all the prophets. Jesus embodies both the law and the prophets. He is the final prophet and the law giver for all people. The three are talking about what Jesus will accomplish in Jerusalem. The apostles see Jesus’ glory and are awed.
When is the last time we were awed by Jesus? He comes to us on the altar, in the sacrament of the Eucharist, and gives us his very self. I once read that if we truly understood who we are in the presence of, we would be prostrate before Jesus.
Do we have reverence at Mass? In the way we dress, pray, receive communion? Or do we treat this like another thing we do each week. Check the box, off the to-do list, let’s move on. Peter wants to set up tents and stay up on the mountain. He wants to be close to Jesus in his glory. He is not in a hurry to check off his list, saw Jesus in his glory; okay, next event, oh let’s go cast out some demons.
And why wouldn’t Peter want to stay, I would. Because then, we hear God’s voice, as he did at Jesus’ baptism, “this is my son, listen to him.” I’d like to stay up on a mountain, sitting with my friends, listening to Jesus as God tells us to. However, we live in the real world. That fun place where we work and take care of our families and the yard and doctor visits and laundry and all the other tasks that pull us away from listening to Jesus.
This event reminds us that in our life there are high points: falling in love, finding a great job, having children, finding life-long friends. There are spiritual high points as well; receiving the sacraments, a moving retreat, time spent in adoration. But we can’t live with only the high points. We live with low points as well. Sickness, disappointments, death are a part of life.
What helps with those times are the high points. We remember then and remind ourselves that it will get better. All this talk of highs and lows may sound like a roller coaster. We are not called to live a roller coaster life. We are called to be faithful and consistent and constant.
And how do we do this? By doing what the Church calls us to in Lent, prayer, fasting and almsgiving all the time! While it’s true that many of us give up things for Lent and that is good; we are also asked to pray and give. Instead of having the mindset of, “Yea, it’s Easter, no more prayer, fasting and almsgiving” try to incorporate one or more of your Lenten disciplines into Ordinary time.
The Transfiguration reminds us that living a life in accordance with God’s will is how we are meant to live. We are meant to listen to Jesus.
Transfiguration of Jesus: Be Awed