What is it like to hear the voice of God? What is it like to be so overwhelmed by religious experience that we do not want it to end? How does one respond when becoming overwhelmed by the love of God? Today’s celebration of the Transfiguration is a rather interesting one indeed. All three gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke have a version of this story. In Peter’s letter, which we hear today recalls the experience Peter have on the top of the mountain with Jesus.
It’s understandable that this experience was important enough for these three evangelists to have given a version of this story. Moreover, the three versions of this gospel encounter of the Transfiguration are read not only today when we commemorate the Transfiguration, but are also used for the second Sunday of Lent. So why is it that this experience is important enough for us to hear it at least twice?
The first reason is the importance for Peter, James and John, and indeed for us, to be given the reassurance and confirmation that the mission of Jesus is true. Just as was true in the day of Jesus, so we discover there are so many areas of life where it can become easy to give in to despair. Like Peter, James, and John, and perhaps Jesus himself, we need those reminders that the glory of God is still real, and active, alive.
The second reason is to remind us of the tremendous glory of God. Not only that, but to know that this glory of God is accessible each one of us with a simple and easy command: listen to Jesus. While not every telling the story has God saying exactly the same thing, what does seem to be clear is the importance of Jesus being identified as the son of God, and the importance for us to listen to Jesus in our own lives.
As human beings, we need confirmation that we’re on the right track, especially when things seem to be failing all around us. By admonishing the apostles not to say anything about the vision until after Jesus’ resurrection of the dead, Jesus is helping the apostles to recognize that the consolation of the Transfiguration is not simply for today. Rather, as is reinforced in the first reading the vision of the Transfiguration is to remind us of the ultimate victory of God over sin and death.
And so we come here today to understand the power of God’s glory in our own lives. It is become popular to use the expression, “begin with the end in mind”, which is actually good Thomistic theology. That is to say, we need to understand the purpose for things. As we are reminded today of the power of God’s glory in the Transfiguration, we are reminded of the end and ultimate purpose of our lives.
For those of you of a certain generation, you remember that we were created “to know, love, and serve God in this life, and to live forever with him in the next.” As we hear God the father express his absolute pleasure in the Son, we are reminded that such happiness in God’s part is possible for each one of us. That is to say, that God can ultimately be as well pleased with us, when we follow the will of God, as he was with the tremendous actions of his Son.
We are challenged today to realize just how deep and rich and great is the goodness and glory of God. Perhaps with that reminder, we will be open to recognize that glory of God which already dwells within our hearts.