TRANSFIGURATION OF THE LORD
For that one moment ‘in and out of time’,
On that one mountain where all moments meet,
The daily veil that covers the sublime,
In darkling glass fell dazzled at his feet,
There were no angels full of eyes and wings
Just living glory full of truth and grace.
The love that dances at the heart of things
Shone out upon us from a human face,
And to that light the light in us leaped up,
We felt it quicken somewhere deep within
A sudden blaze of long extinguished hope
Trembled and tingled through the tender skin.
Nor can this blackened sky, this darkened scar
Eclipse that glimpse of how things really are.
Malcolm Guite, Sounding the Seasons.
The Transfiguration experience was a momentary glimpse of divine glory that enabled the disciples to see the world in a dramatically new light. It was as if they had woken up from a life-long sleep, opened new eyes and sensed the presence of an invisible someone or something filling the whole earth. St Ambrose, after a somewhat similar experience, said: ‘The whole created universe is darkness in comparison with eternal light’. The experience of the disciples on the ‘high mountain’ has found an echo in the lives of believers down the ages. Augustine, Bernard of Clairvaux, Francis of Assisi, Therese of Lisieux, Gerard Manly Hopkins, Thomas Merton and others have left us glimpses of the divine presence in their lives.
When a little girl was asked what a saint was, she replied (thinking of the stained glass windows in the church), “A person who lets the light through.” There’s a significant moment in today’s Transfiguration scene. The ancient Israelites were terrified at hearing the voice of God. The disciples were so overwhelmed at hearing the voice from the cloud they fell prostrate. But Jesus went to them, touched them and invited them to ‘Rise up, and do not be afraid.’ The God who created over 200 billion trillion stars in our universe has drawn close to us and speaks kindly and gently to us. How often are we put at ease as we listen to a reassuring voice. To listen is to let the light through; to listen is to be transformed.
The experience of the Transfiguration led the disciples to a new and deeper level of faith as they listened to Jesus scold them for their lack of it, and warn them of his coming passion, death and rising again – Matt 17:22-23. Their new understanding of Jesus as ‘my Son, the Beloved’ matured their faith and emboldened them to accept what lay ahead. “Rise, and do not be afraid.” How has my understanding and experience of Christ transformed and inspired me in following him?
Fr. QQ – 08/03/2023
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent world broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings…. Gerard Manley Hopkins, God’s Grandeur.