This week the Church celebrated the feast day of the Transfiguration. The event of the Transfiguration of Jesus is recorded in the Bible (Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-8, Luke 9:28-36) where Jesus and three of his disciples went up a mountain to pray. Whilst they were there, the disciples witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus’ body as he became ‘dazzling white’ and his glory was revealed. But what importance does this event hold for us today? What does it mean for us?
It is said that as Christians we live between memory and hope. The disciples Peter, John and James were allowed to see Jesus transfigured and shining in glory, because they were soon to witness the passion and death of Jesus. This undoubtedly was to seriously shake their faith and to cause them to question all they had believed of Jesus. The memory of Jesus’ divinity and glory revealed on that mountain was a memory that they could hold onto in the darkest of times. As we face the harsher realities of this world; the poverty, the injustice, the cruelty of mankind. As we too bear our own crosses, we can also hold on to the tradition and memory of Christ transfigured on that mountain, in the knowledge that the Jesus we follow and in whom we place our faith was not just a good man, or a magician, or even a prophet, but he was the Son of God – the Messiah – and his true glorious and divine nature was revealed to humanity at the Transfiguration.
But the Transfiguration of Jesus is also important because of what we hope for. Jesus promised that all who believe in him would receive eternal life in Heaven, and as Christians we hope for the day when Jesus will come again and the New Jerusalem, the Kingdom of God, will be established on earth. The metamorphosis of Jesus’ body on that mountain gave the disciples a foretaste of his resurrection and triumph that was to come, but it also enables us to have a glimpse at what the new heavenly and resurrected body we one day hope to inherit may look like.
“He was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white.” Matt. 17:2