What are we celebrating in remembering the Transfiguration of our Lord in the midst of Lent? Are we called to share these moments of transfiguration with the Lord in our daily lives? Are we not being transformed now, going from glory to glory as St. Paul wrote? In the eternal world of the Kingdom of God, are we not going to be transfigured even in our risen bodies? Jesus said that in heaven, the just will shine like the sun.(Matthew 13:43)
To find answers to these questions, we can start by the following statement based on a good understanding of the Bible, especially the New Testament. Here it is: heaven, and all it contains, is not far away from the earth. It is “separated” from us by a really thin boundary, that is, in fact, like a breathing membrane, which allows communication between the visible and the invisible worlds.
The transfiguration of Jesus is a breakthrough of the divine world into our finite human world. At his baptism in the Jordan, Jesus saw the sky parted in two (a breakthrough!), and he could hear the voice of the Father saying, “You are my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” Today, at the Transfiguration, there is a similar breakthrough. Even better this time, because Peter, John and James can hear the voice of the Father. “This is my beloved Son; Listen to Him.” Moreover, Jesus himself in his transfigured humanity shows them his deepest identity as true God and true man. From that time on, we are called to seek God’s face in and through the face of Christ.
Pope Benedict XVI wrote that the Transfiguration of Jesus is a prayer event. “It displays visibly what happens when Jesus talks with his Father, the profound interpretation of his being with God, which then becomes pure light.” St. Paul tells us that we are in the process of being transfigured in Christ, until we are like him in heaven. This process is largely invisible except through the fruits of holiness. But sometimes God allows us to see his glory and the glory with which we will be covered in heaven.
Can we hint what the transfigured moments are? They are moments when heaven and earth merge into one reality for us. The beauty of a sunset by the sea; a hike to the mountain top; a walk amidst huge trees. But also a moment of deep communion through prayer. Or an experience of being forgiven or forgiving another human being. Or an insight into the Scripture and the joy of knowing that the full communion with one another and with God is indeed very near.
God bless you! Fr. Pierre