As the world around us looks like it’s falling apart, today’s Feast of the Transfiguration is a welcome reminder that there’s glory ahead. Let’s climb that holy mountain to see far and wide. On the mountain of the Transfiguration, Jesus revealed God’s plan for saving the world. “This is my Son, my beloved, listen to him,” God says.
“It is good to be here,” the disciples say in the gospel story, and they invite us to join them. The mystery of the Transfiguration anticipates in a transitory way the glory to come in God’s kingdom. Yes, it will come, glorious, beyond anything we know here.
When Jesus is transfigured before the eyes of his disciples on the mountain, two figures talk with him: Elijah and Moses. Why are they there?
They were prophets told by God to free others from slavery, but they suffered to do it. Appearing with Jesus they’re reminders that glory calls for sacrifice. Jesus suffered so God’s kingdom will come.
On the mountain Jesus proclaims that all creation will be transfigured, but first the Messiah must suffer before it takes place.
Years ago I visited Mount Tabor in the Holy Land, traditional site of the transfiguration. Outside the church was a beautiful garden with plants and flowers from all over the world. All creation waits to be transfigured, they say.
The Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord is celebrated by Christian churches all over the world, in the Ukraine, Russia, Syria and the Middle East, for example. Can we bring to that holy mountain today places of war and violence, poverty and homelessness, where glory seems so far away? You will be transfigured too.
” Therefore, since each of us possesses God in his heart and is being transformed into his divine image, we also should cry out with joy: It is good for us to be here – here where all things shine with divine radiance, where there is joy and gladness and exultation; where there is nothing in our hearts but peace, serenity and stillness; where God is seen. For here, in our hearts, Christ takes up his abode together with the Father, saying as he enters: Today salvation has come to this house. With Christ, our hearts receive all the wealth of his eternal blessings, and there where they are stored up for us in him, we see reflected as in a mirror both the first fruits and the whole of the world to come.”
Sermon for the Feast of the Transfiguration, Anastasius of Sinai, bishop