Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, 'Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, 'This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!' When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen. "
The gospel describes an incident in Christ’s life of which only Peter, James and John were witnesses. It took place on a mountain, which is Mount Thabor near Nazareth according to tradition. Some day previously Peter had confessed that Christ was the “Messiah of God”. Christ had then foretold his passion and death at the hands of his enemies, to be followed by his resurrection. He had encouraged his disciples not to fear sufferings but to carry their cross and so reach their glory as he was about to do.
However, the disciples could not persuade themselves that he who had shown such wonderful powers could allow himself to be put to death by his enemies. This scene on the mountain therefore, which is called the Transfiguration, was intended by Christ to be an encouragement to his disciples to remain steadfast in the terrible test of faith which his passion and death was soon to be for them.
It is out of the abundance of his divine love that God gave a glimpse of the future glory of Christ in his rise humanity to the three disciples on that memorable occasion. And with Christ he showed two others of his faithful servants also in glory. He understood the human weakness of the disciples, and foresaw the shock to their faith which the sad scenes of the passion and crucifixion of their beloved master would be some weeks later. So, to strengthen and forearm them for that sad trial, he gave them a glimpse of the future glory which was to be theirs, too, if they persevered.
It is for this same reason that this all important event in the life of Christ and of his apostles has been preserved for us in the gospels and is put before us today.
Like the apostles, we too believe firmly in God. We are also very like them in our human weakness and in our half-hearted acceptance of God’s purpose for and promises to us. The apostles had to face the awful test to their faith and trust in God, which the passion and crucifixion of Christ was for them. We now accept with gratitude and realize that Christ had to suffer and thus enter into his glory. We even understand that the very purpose of Christ’s passion was that in spite of our mortality and weakness, we also might enter into eternal glory through his suffering, on condition that we remain true to our faith.
In our moments of cool, calm reasoning we can see clearly how good God has been to us, how wonderful his love which has arranged for us an eternity of happiness, the perfect fulfillment of every rational human desire. We can also see how little God asks of us during our few short years here, in return for the everlasting happy home he has prepared for us.
However, unfortunately we have many moments in life in which cool, calm reasoning does not prevail. We have moments when our vices and not our virtues take charge, moments when we are prepared to sell our eternal heritage in exchange for a mess of earthly pottage. Some of us may already have bartered our heavenly home for some temporal gain or pleasure – but while here is life there is hope. We can still put thing right with God.
It is wonderful to be adopted sons and daughters of God on the road back to our Father. It is wonderful to be assured that in death this body of ours with its pains and aches, its attraction to earthly things and worse still its propensity to sin, will give place to a glorified body. This glorified body will be free from all pain and corruption and will possess all the human spiritual gifts of intelligence and will to so much greater a degree as will enable us to appreciate ad enjoy the eternal happiness in store for us. Amen.