Customarily, the reading of the Transfiguration of Jesus is proclaimed on the Second Sunday of Lent at the Eucharist as part of the Liturgy of the Word. This Christ-event is recorded in three of the Gospels, Mark, Matthew & Luke, and is also mentioned in the Second Letter of Peter. (2 Peter 1:16–18). A total of three Gospels, each giving an account of the event, indicates that the community of the early Church considered this Christ-event of the Transfiguration as very, very significant.
In 2002, Pope John Paul II introduced the Luminous Mysteries in the rosary, which includes the Transfiguration. In the mindset of the present day, it is very attractive to portray the story of Transfiguration from some Sci-Fi movie-channel-type of imagination or from the imagery of Harry Potter fiction. That provides great material for writing fantasy stories for commercial entertainment and literary consumption.
The Transfiguration narrative, however, is not so much about how Jesus was transfigured, the supernatural process that was visually observed. Rather, it is an account of a significant spiritual experience where the three disciples, Peter, James and John, found their awestruck encounter so transforming. These three fishermen, after they left their fishing nets behind to follow Jesus, yet experienced another life-changing moment, some kind of ‘peak experience’ on the mountain top. They came to know Jesus in a more profound way. They have been prepared to share this experience when the time comes.
One cannot stay all the time at a peak experiential moment on the mountain. Peter, James and John had to come down from the mountain top.
The journey of following Jesus is not always accompanied by exceptional spiritual ‘highs’. What is equally significant, and more important, is persevering fidelity. Any ‘transfiguration’ in us must come from within. By the power of God’s grace, we are invited to co-operate with the Spirit.
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