In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
There are blessed or tragic moments when we can see a person revealed to
us in a light with a depth, with an awesome beauty which we have never
It happens when our eyes are open, at a moment of purity of heart;
because it is not only God Himself Whom the pure in heart will see; it
is also the divine image, the light shining in the darkness of a human
soul, of the human life that we can see at moments when our heart
becomes still, becomes transparent, becomes pure.
But there are also other moments when we can see a person whom we
thought we have always known, in a light that is a revelation. It
happens when someone is aglow with joy, with love, with a sense of
worship and adoration. It happens also when a person is at the deepest
point, the crucifying point of suffering, but when the suffering remains
pure, when no hatred, no resentment, no bitterness, no evil is mixed to
it, when pure suffering shines out, as it shone invisibly to many from
the crucified Christ.
This can help us to understand what the Apostles saw when they were on
the Mount of Transfiguration. They saw Christ in glory at a moment when
His total surrender to the will of the Father, His final and ultimate
acceptance of His own human destiny, became revealed to them. Moses and
Elijah, we are told, stood by Him; the one representing the Law and the
other one representing the Prophets: both have proclaimed the time when
salvation would come, when the Man of suffering will take upon Himself
all the burdens of the world, when the Lamb of God slain before all ages
would take upon Himself all the tragedy of this world. It was a moment
when in His humanity Christ, in humble and triumphant surrender, gave
Himself ultimately to the Cross.
Last week we heard Him say that the Son of God will be delivered in the
hand of men, and they will crucify Him, but on the third day He will
rise. At that moment it became imminent, it was a decisive point, and He
shone with the glory of the perfect, sacrificial, crucified love of the
Holy Trinity, and the
responsive love of Jesus the Man, as Saint Paul calls Him. The Apostles
saw the shining, they saw the divine light streaming through the
transparent flesh of Christ, falling on all the things around Him,
touching rock and plant, and calling out of them a response of light.
They alone did not understand, because in all the
created world man alone has sinned and became blind. And yet, they were
shown the mystery, and yet, they entered into that cloud which is the
divine glory, that filled them with awe, with fear, but at the same time
with such exulting joy and wonder!
Moses had entered that cloud and was allowed to speak to God as a friend
speaks to a friend; he was allowed to see God passing by him, still
without a name, still without a face; and now, they saw the face of God
in the Incarnation. They saw His face and they saw His glory shining out
of tragedy. What they perceived was the glory, what they perceived was
the wonder of being there, in the glory of God, in the presence of
Christ revealed to them in glory. They wanted to stay there forever, as
we do at moments when something fills us with adoration, with worship,
with awe, with unutterable joy, but Christ had told them that the time
has come to go down into the valley, to leave the Mount of
Transfiguration because this was the beginning of the way of the Cross,
and He had to be merged into all that was tragic in human life. He
brought them down into the valley to be confronted with the agony of the
father whose child could not be cured, with the inability of the
disciples to do anything for this child, with the expectation of the
people who now could turn to no-one but Him - that is where He brought
And we are told that He had chosen these three disciples because
together, in their togetherness they held the three great virtues that
make us capable of sharing with God the mystery of His incarnation, of
His Divinity, of His crucifixion, to face His descent into hell after
His death and to receive the news of
His resurrection: the faith of Peter, the love of John, the
righteousness of James.
There are moments when we also see something which is beyond us, and how
much we wish we could stay, stay forever in this blissful condition; and
it is not only because we are incapable of it that we are not allowed to
stay in it, but because the Lord says, You are now on the Mount of
Transfiguration, you have seen Christ ready to be crucified for the life
of the world - go now together with Him, go now in His name, go now, and
bring people to Him that they may live!
This is our vocation. May God give us faith, and the purity of heart
that allows us to see God in every brother and sister of ours! Didn't
one of the Desert Fathers say, ‘He who has seen his brother has seen God’?
- and serve one another with love sacrificial, with the exulting joy of
giving our lives to one another as Christ gave His life for us. Amen.