DN 7:9-10, 13-14 / PS 97: 1-2, 5-6, 9 / 2 PT 1:16-19 / MT 17:1-9
If you are anything like me today’s Feast of the Transfiguration and today’s Gospel can leave us confused. It can be easy to ask ourselves what is Jesus doing going up a mountain, being transformed and visiting with Moses and Elijah. It is only when we stop for a moment and listen carefully to the Gospel that I think the importance of today’s feast shines through in three ways.
Firstly up until this point Jesus has spent a great amount of time preaching and teaching about the kingdom of heaven and His second coming in glory. In Matthew’s Gospel immediately before today’s Gospel reading Peter and the other apostles had their faith tested when Jesus revealed to his apostles that he must suffer and die. This revelation caused great scandal for the apostles to the point that Peter responded that no such thing could happen and Jesus rebuked him telling him “get behind me Satan.” In taking Peter, James and John to the mountain to witness his transformation Jesus strengthened the faith of His disciples. Through the Transfiguration Jesus demonstrates to His disciples and to us the reality of the resurrection and the coming of the Kingdom of God.
Secondly notice that St. Matthew tells us Jesus led Peter, James and John up the mountain. It is Jesus that leads these three apostles up the mountain as if to say to them and to all of us “follow me and I will lead you to eternal life.” Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and in the Transfiguration Jesus invites us to follow Him to the top of the mountain, to follow Him to eternal life.
Thirdly notice that St. Matthew tells us Jesus was transfigured while He prayed. Jesus shows us that living the Christian life is a continual scaling of the mountain to meet Jesus and then a descent back down into the world bearing His love and drawing strength from Him so that we can serve those we encounter with God’s own love.
The Transfiguration is certainly a mystery, but like all mysteries Jesus is present in it’s midst desiring to teach us. His Transfiguration strengthens our faith, invites us to follow Him who is the Way, the Truth and the Life up the mountain and assures us of the importance of prayer in our life. As we ascend the mountain this morning to receive the Resurrected Jesus in the Eucharist let us ask the Lord to strengthen our faith and show us the way to eternal life.