Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. There is a clear theme in the readings from today – This Jesus of Nazareth is without doubt the Son of God; this Jesus of Nazareth is clearly divine, full of majesty, power and glory. We see it in the Gospel from Luke where the experience of Peter, James, and John with Christ on Mount Tabor is described. While Jesus is praying, his face “changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white”. In Luke’s Gospel, we hear the voice of the Father coming from the cloud, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” The witnessing of this voice from heaven is affirmed in the Second Letter of St. Peter, when St. Peter proclaims that they heard a voice from heaven, on that holy mountain, saying, “This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
The description of bright clothing is pre-figured in the reading from the Book of the Prophet Daniel. Here, it is ascribed to the Ancient One (the Father), and the description is of the Ancient One on His throne with clothing as bright as snow; hair on his head as white as wool, and streams, burning wheels, and flames of fire. We see the pre-figuring of the presentation of the Son of Man (Christ) before the Ancient One who gives the Son dominion, glory, and kingship over all nations and peoples.
I wonder what the purpose of the transfiguration was in God’s plan. It was likely to make abundantly clear the full divinity of Christ. The disciples had witnessed the miracles of Jesus, but they had seen his humanity as well – his need to eat, to rest, to pray. Seeing Jesus transfigured before them served as a reminder that He truly is the Son of God. The transfiguration occurs shortly before Christ’s final journey to Jerusalem to enter into His passion. Perhaps, the transfiguration was designed to strengthen the disciples for the events that were to take place and their mission that would follow.
One final thought regarding the Gospel. In meditating on it, I kept coming back to Peter’s words on Mount Tabor, “Master, it is good that we are here.” Let us be reminded of Peter’s words when we see Christ in his glory during the Mass, when ordinary bread and wine are transfigured into the body and blood of our Savior; let us be reminded and say ourselves, “Master, it is good that we are here.”