He (Jesus) took Peter, John and James, and went up the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the aspect of his face was changed, and his clothing became dazzling white. Two men were talking with Jesus: Moses and Elijah. Appearing in the glory of heaven, Moses and Elijah spoke to Jesus about his departure from this life, which was to take place in Jerusalem.
Peter and his companions had fallen asleep; but they awoke suddenly, and they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As Moses and Elijah were about to leave, Peter—not knowing what to say—said to Jesus, “Master, how good it is for us to be here! Let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” And no sooner had he spoken, than a cloud appeared and covered them; and the disciples were afraid as they entered the cloud. Then these words came from the cloud, “This is my Son, my Beloved, listen to him.” And after the voice had spoken, Jesus was there alone.
The disciples kept this to themselves at the time, telling no one of anything they had seen.
Why did Jesus show his inner glory to Peter, James and John on a particular occasion?
The answer to this question is given in the opening words of today’s gospel reading: “About eight days after Jesus had said this…” Said what? In the paragraphs immediately preceding, we read that Jesus made the first prediction of his impending suffering and death. And so, Luke tells us that the Transfiguration is directly connected to this frightful revelation. The rest is easy to guess: by showing his inner glory, Jesus wants to strengthen Peter, James and John so that, upon witnessing his Passion, they might not lose all faith in his ultimate victory (also predicted along with the Passion).
Well and good, but what concern is all that to us?
It is of great concern, because we, too, occasionally get a glimpse of Christ’s glory—we call these glimpses spiritual consolations, those interior movements inflaming us with love for God, increasing our faith and hope. These little “transfigurations” are meant to strengthen us against the times when we will find ourselves in spiritual desolation. During times of consolation, let us remain humble, remembering how weak we are without God’s felt presence.
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