Transfiguration

Jesus is connecting earth and heaven
Mt 17:1–9

Jesus is talking to Moses and Elijah and in this way he confirms his proclaimed fulfillment of the Law (Moses) and of the Prophets (Elijah). Both are deeply related to the transfiguration on the mountain because both of them received a revelation of God's inner life on the mountain (Exodus 34, 1 Kings 19). For both of them the encounter on the mountain was an important school for them, where they were taught by God something new and were brought to essential conversion. For Jesus the experience of his Father's voice is the confirmation of what he already heard after his baptism. Now the disciples hear this precious revelation of the Father acknowledging his Son and lovably validating his love for him.
When Luke in his Gospel mentions that disciples fell asleep, that means that this talk took a longer time (Lk 9:32).

The time of the event indicated as "after six days" directly reminds of the seventh day – the day of divine rest, when the work was finished. The seventh day is blessed and sanctified (Gen 2:3). The transfiguration is anticipation of Easter.

The three chosen disciples were the witnesses to the resurrection of the daughter of Jairus (Mk 5:37), and they will be close to Jesus in the Gethsemane (Mk 14:33). They are allowed to see beforehand what the others will experience only after the resurrection of Jesus: his divine glory.

This event confirms the dialogue between humankind and God: Peter's proposition to make three dwellings receives an answer from heaven. When Jesus is there, the human, earthily voice can recieve the blessed answer from above. The cloud is once more in the Bible the sign of God's presence (Mt 17:5), like it was when God met Moses on Sinai (Ex 34).

The "face" of Jesus is specially mentioned in the transfiguration (Mt 17:2). It is true that face reveals our essence very exactly. When we see someone's face we recognize the person. Jesus' clothes shining like "light" (greek φως 17:2) make the disciples see in one way more that Jesus is the light of the world.

According to Luke Jesus is talking with Moses and Elijah about his future in Jerusalem (Lk 9:31). In this way he shows so important part of our human nature: we are not finished, we have a special desire and expectation for the things to come; there is always some unfinished business. Jesus once said he eagerly expects the baptism (Lk 13:50), although he was already baptized in Jordan. When the two disciples asked to be ruling with him, Jesus told them about the baptism he expected (Mk 10:39) and yet he received already the baptism by John the Baptist. Jesus is oriented to the future.

For reflection:
What are the moments of transfiguration in my life?
How does the face of Jesus look like for me?
How do I look to my future?

8 Aug 2011 Niko Bilić SJ