The Feast of the Transfiguration is deeply meaningful to me, though I am not sure that I can explain just why. As with many things of Faith, by God’s grace, my understanding develops and changes over time. In a sense, it is “transfigured”.
I read somewhere the idea that Christ Himself did not change when He, Peter, James and John went up the mountain. Rather, it was the disciples’ vision that changed. In that moment we call the Transfiguration, they were able to see who Jesus was in His fullness and who He had always been. All at once, their eyes had been opened.
I do not know if that is true – but I can relate to the idea. As I have written here more than once, I often find myself suddenly seeing something that seems to have always been right there. I did not know I had been going about with my eyes closed, but apparently I had.
Sometimes it seems that I have to bump into things and feel pain before I realize that this is what I am doing. Otherwise it is simply too easy to keep wandering through life with closed eyes.
Were the disciples like me in this sense, thinking they knew who Jesus was but needing to have their eyes opened? Or did God plan a special revelation to these three for some other reason?
Perhaps such a distinction does not matter. God is continuously revealing Himself to us. For Him, “a moment” is as nothing – or it is eternal. He need not start or stop anything. But we, we who are stuck in time and blinded by sin, we often cannot see what is always being shown to us.
On that mountain, a great revealing occurred. Indeed, a revealing of such extraordinary proportions that, aside from the Resurrection itself, little more is of greater significance in the tide of human history.
As I may have mentioned before, one of the things I sometimes struggle with as a lifelong Catholic Christian is that over-familiarity with certain Scriptures results in my no longer responding with amazement to what is truly astounding.
And so this evening, I was grateful to have experienced a bit of Scripture freshly, despite having undoubtedly heard it many times before. Apparently, while walking about with my eyes closed, I often have my ears closed as well.
Before reading and reprinting this short passage for you, I might add that I just completed my reading of, When the Church Was Young: Voices of the Early Fathers, by Marcellino D’Ambrosio Ph.D. (I hope to eventually write a review of the book on Amazon – 5 stars without a doubt.) As I read of the people and dilemmas of the early Church, I discovered that my relationship with the Church was being transformed.
Now, when I read or hear a passage written by one of the Apostles or Church Fathers, I am impacted in a manner that is notably different. Somehow, it feels as though I have received a communication about the Faith from a old friend whom I trust. Characters who had been two-dimensional to me before have now become three-dimensional – and alive.
And so today, I heard from Peter, one of the three who was on the mountain with the Lord:
Text: (2 Peter 1: 16-19)
It was not any cleverly invented myths that we were repeating when we brought you the knowledge of the power and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; we had seen his majesty for ourselves. He was honored and glorified by God the Father, when the Sublime Glory itself spoke to him and said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favor.” We heard this ourselves, spoken from heaven, when we were with him on the holy mountain.
So we have confirmation of what was said in the prophecies; and you will be right to depend on prophecy and take it as a lamp for lighting a way through the dark until the dawn comes and the morning star rises in your minds.
My friend, Peter, tells me that he was there, on the holy mountain, and he saw this with his own eyes. No doubt he did not fully understand what it meant at the time and surely he was still weak and afraid.
But his life was changed. How could it not be?
And so my life too is changed. Seeing through his eyes, my own eyes become just a little more open.
Longing to see, longing to hear, I await the Lord’s word: “Ephphatha” (“Be opened.”)
May it be so.
And my eyes were opened just now, though on a less lofty level: could it be that, rather than a weak, tentative, partial affirmation, the word “maybe” is a shortened version of your closing prayer? Perhaps so.
Be that as it may, may your prayer be so.
P.S. Don’t mind the levity, Mary. Sometimes it takes me a while to address important thoughts directly. What you have sad here is very important to me. I especially liked, and will take to heart, the passage from Peter’s letter. In the past I had simply accepted the Transfiguration as one of many markers in the church year. Like transubstantion, it gradually became just another big word. Now I am getting my eyes opened a bit.
I always appreciate your comments, Al. They make me think more about what I have written and sometimes I see a new angle.
This time, as I re-read, I was struck by Peter’s phrase that it was “not any cleverly invented myths” that he was repeating. This reminds me of how our secular society has affected me at times in looking at Divine outpourings that are so far beyond my experience.
I am ashamed to admit that there have been many times in my life when I have looked for (and of course “found”) logical explanations within understandable science for the mystical – whether it be healing, visions or whatever. This is how weak my faith can be.
And so it is interesting to me that Peter, so soon after these events actually occurred, had to protest, (essentially) “I didn’t make this up. I was there and SAW it myself.” I cannot imagine seeing such a thing. But something very great must have happened for an ordinary fisherman to leave his nets and become the leader of a Faith that has endured for two thousand years.