Luke’s account of the transfiguration of Jesus is my favorite for two reasons. He told us what Jesus was talking about with Moses and Elijah: “his exodus and what he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.” He also told us that “Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep, but becoming fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.” There’s a beautiful and powerful message here.
First. Jesus was in conversation with Moses, the spirit-filled leader who led the people of Israel from the slavery they suffered in Egypt to the promised land. Elijah was with them. He was Israel’s greatest prophet who did battle with the priests of the pagan god, Baal to assure Israel’s purity of faith. These three, Jesus, Moses and Elijah were speaking with one another. They were in communion – a harmony of mission. Moses and Elijah guided Israel to the very door of the kingdom of God. Jesus was the key that would open it.
Jesus was preparing for his personal Passover from life to death to resurrection his exodus. His journey into the Paschal Mystery, will bring redemption not only for Israel but for humankind, and for all time.
Second. Luke told us that the disciples, Peter, James and John, “becoming fully awake,” saw his glory. What does he mean by “becoming fully awake?” He means that the fog of spiritual sleep had been lifted. Now, they saw Jesus, the fulfillment of Israel’s prophecies and the Son of God, wrapped in the divine glory. “His face
changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white.” The disciples represent the Jewish people, tired, sleepy and disheartened from their longing for redemption for two thousand years! Jesus’ transfiguration was their moment of spiritual awakening. At that moment they saw heaven and earth united.
The Church wants us to reflect on this account of the transfiguration every year. It’s meant to alert us of our possible sleepiness. To respond to Jesus’ invitation to follow him we have to be awake – alive to his message and his example. We have to keep his glory in mind so they we can put on that same glory.
At the last supper Jesus prayed to his Father. “I have given them the glory you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know they you sent me, and that you loved them even as you love me.” The Church wants us to take this to heart. Are we aware of God’s glory in us? Are we aware that we’re one with God? Does the world, the dark energy that perpetuates violence and aggression, poverty and injustice, disinformation and lies, feel the threat of the divine light within us?
Lent is our annual retreat into the desert. It’s the time we convert – turn ourselves around – face a new direction. It’s the time we get back in line to follow Jesus. It’s the time we wake up to see Jesus with alert, new eyes. It’s the time we reflect on his transfiguration and hope for ours.