I will never forget that ecstatic feeling, as we sat on top of “First”, the minor summit above Grindelwald, Switzerland. We were a troupe of 10, making our way to the 50th Charismatic Jubilee celebrations in Rome and had stopped to soak in some Swiss splendor. One morning, I made my way alone to a tiny hill where we gathered for our early morning worship. As I walked amidst the serene, still, gigantic landscape, I heard it. I raced uphill, my heart pulsating with what felt so familiar, until I saw it—a river—gushing forth from the mountains, flooding my sight with sensational awe, as the words “current of grace” inundated my spirit.
That afternoon, I learnt that it was very unusual to sight melting snow in May. Current of grace, indeed!
Made for Heaven
I really think this is why Jesus did it, why He showed a glimpse of His heavenly glory to Peter, John, and James in the Transfiguration and why He continues to woo us with beauty, truth, and mercy on earth. We are made for Heaven.
In this feast, we are invited to those “thin places” where the membrane separating Heaven and earth becomes transparent and Jesus is seen “unveiled”. Standing with Moses and Elijah, His face shone like the sun, His garments glowing with light, as a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from Heaven thundered:
This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!
Who Do You Say I Am?
The favored disciples saw what always was, what we rightfully profess in the Creed: “God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God.”
But there is so much more than just dazzling light on Mount Tabor. Jesus reveals who He is. In a world of quick fixes, addictive lifestyles and moral abandonment, to consider a kingdom Jesus offers, leaves us with a question we cannot escape: ‘Who do you say I am?’ (Matthew 16:15)
Jesus is not asking, “What have you heard about me?” He is not even asking, “Who does the Church say I am?” Rather He asks, “Who do you say I am?” The question is personal. It is life-changing.
Do I know Jesus? Have I encountered Him personally?
While the disciples may have recognized Christ as the Messiah, they often failed to act in proper reverence. It is only when they walked intimately with Jesus that their response moved from a posture of familiarity to one of faith.
Pope Benedict XVI reminds us:
The essence of Christianity is Christ, not a doctrine, but a person.
This is what the Transfiguration is: a “getaway” to know Christ, to encounter Him and to be transformed by His light.
Only Jesus Remains
As suddenly as it all began, it also faded. The patriarchs disappeared leaving the disciples with no one, but Jesus. Only Jesus remained. Only Jesus remains.
“Listen to Him” the voice of Heaven demands.
We live in an age where listening is drowned out with noise and busyness. Listening demands time and stillness. No wonder we settle for doing rather than listening. Peter’s impetuous suggestion to build shelters could well be ours. How different he is from Mary whose quiet pondering enabled her to sustain her pilgrimage uphill Calvary?
Are we taking time to listen to Jesus?
I received the word “linger” for 2021. It didn’t take long to realize that my life was consumed with crammed calendars and unsurpassable schedules, robbing me of the solitude my soul demanded. I comprehend today that the Lord was requesting my “getaway” to prepare me for months that followed, months heavy and hard, months flooded with trials and tears.
A Time of Preparation
How gracious that the Lord prepares us for such. How kind that He beckons us to come so He can listen to and comfort the one He calls beloved. Saint Ignatius describes this as spiritual consolation—an interior movement within, where the soul becomes inflamed by Grace. We are called to soak up and store these Divine consolations so that they may sustain us in the future.
I have been spending time reliving consolations. How desperate I am for this current of grace that floods my soul each time I remain, linger, and listen. When I listen, I can recognize Jesus, when I listen I can follow Him more closely.
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Descend to Discipleship
While the trip to Switzerland left me with mountain-top wonder, the journey downward to Rome reminded me why. We gathered at Circus Maximus, with people from across the world, listening to Pope Francis charge, “the harvest is plenty, the laborers few. Go, the world needs you.”
Those words dispelled any romantic notions I had about discipleship. I realized how easy it is to live in the ecstasy of being chosen and forget the mandate of being commissioned. How tempting it is to cling to mountain-top euphoria and want to control where I am going. But discipleship isn’t about going or even arriving, it is about following.
If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves, take up their cross and follow me. // Matthew 16:24
No matter how high we ascend, the Cross still shines.
What does it mean to follow Jesus? Will I go where He leads? Am I willing to descend to the most unlikely places? Am I willing to live with ambiguity, insecurity, and vulnerability?
The Transfiguration reminds us of Who we follow. He who gives us wings to soar on great summits also accompanies us in the valley of the shadow of death. As we follow Him to “Jerusalem”, we who are surprised by His Glory are unavoidably transformed by His Grace.How easy it is to live in the ecstasy of being chosen and forget the mandate of being commissioned! #BISblog // Click To Tweet
You are the Light
At the end of the stunning experience, the disciples came down the mountain, where they witnessed and ministered. This is our journey, too. Transformed by Light, we carry light.
Who in your “Jerusalem” needs Christ’s light today?
You are the concrete sign of the Transfiguration: a light for the world, a city on a hill. Flooded by currents of grace (see Ephesians 3:20), you are a vessel of hope and healing to a world weighed down by suffering. You are the light because Christ’s light is within you. Even on the darkest of nights, Jesus, your lamp, will never go out.
Community Sent Forth
On days when I’m tired and when the glow of Mount Tabor remains but a distant memory, I lean into my community. In the sisterhood, I have found fellow travelers who are willing to walk with me, linger, and listen to my woes. Together we discover that our earthbound experiences, however pleasant, are temporary. We still suffer, but we don’t have to suffer alone. We don’t have to wake up in the dark. We can share our burdens. We can share our consolations. We can share our light.
And yet, all the mountain-top experiences are nothing compared to what awaits us as Children of the Light. When all is dimmed this side of eternity, we will stand face to face, before the real, risen, and radiant One, who took on the longest journey there ever will be, to bring us to Heaven, to bring us home.
There we shall live on Mount Zion with Him. There we shall see what no eye has seen. There we shall touch the trophies of His Grace. There we shall be transfigured with Him.
We will be like Him because we shall see Him as He is. // 1 John 3:2
On the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord #BISblog // Click To Tweet