Jesus’ Transfiguration - seeing glory through the path of His Cross

εὐαγγελίζω (euaggelizo)
“to announce the Good News of victory in battle”

“As they were coming down from the mountain,
he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone,
except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
So they kept the matter to themselves,
questioning what rising from the dead meant.”

θεωρέω (theoreo)
(“to perceive, discover, ponder a deeper meaning”)

In terms of the journey to full Sacramental communion as well as the whole of Christian living, the event of Jesus’ Transfiguration (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 554 — 556) is a moment-of-moments in His Public Ministry. Commentary abounds on this Event from the Fathers of the Church to contemporary interpreters, notably the late Dominican priest, Jean Corbon who penned deep insights in his work, Wellspring of Worship. Hence today’s «words of THE WORD» will cull a bit more directly from these giants to help all of us as we walk down the mountain of the Transfiguration to climb with Jesus another mountain: Calvary.

Corbon notes that the “Transfiguration is the historical and literary center of the Gospel by reason of its mysterious realism: the humanity of Jesus is the vital place where men become God (this is ‘divinization’ among the Eastern Fathers of the Church) and the apostles could properly see the nature of their Lord (Wellsprings of Worship, 91).” Accordingly, it is not so much a change in or about Jesus; rather the Event is the grace whereby humanity is able, once again, “to see” the glory of God – a power that has been damaged severely by the Fall and subsequent transgressions.

For the evangelist Mark, this ‘restored’ ability “to see” is crucial because in terms of his Chronology, Mark situates the Transfiguration among lessons on discipleship as a preparation for Jesus’ Passion. Corbon writes: “The reason for the transfiguration can be glimpsed, therefore, in what the evangelists do not say: having finished to instruction preparatory to his own Pasch, Jesus is determined to advance to its accomplishment. With the whole of his being, the whole of his ‘body’, he is committed to the loving will of the Father; he accepts that will without reservation. From now on, everything, up to and including the final struggle at which the same three disciples will be invited to be present, will be an expression of his unconditional ‘Yes’ to the Father’s love (Wellsprings of Worship, 93).” In other words, Peter, James and John behold that Jesus’ glory lie in His total Gift of Himself in doing His Father’s Will. Jesus’ “Yes” is the light of glory transforming the darkness of sin and selfishness.

In many parishes this Sunday, the “Penitential Rite (Scrutiny)” will be celebrated for adults preparing for Full Communion with the Church during the Easter Season. The connection between the proclamation of Jesus’ Transfiguration and this Liturgical Rite is powerful. In the Rite, all are asked to pray that the candidates “will be given a spirit of repentance, a deepened sense of sin and the true freedom of the children of God (RCIA, 468).” The Church’s prayer, prayed over them, asks that they be “Enlightened … clearly seeing their sins and failings” that they “may place all their trust in Your mercy and resist all that is deceitful and harmful (RCIA, 470).”

Thus in the Liturgy “our eyes can be opened so that we may recognize the Lord and be transformed into Him. This, then, is the body of Christ, the sacrament of human salvation and God’s glorification. The liturgy creates in the Church the transfiguration of the ‘whole body’, which is now growing, the transforming union in which men become God (Wellsprings of Worship, 97).”