Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean.
At the beginning of today’s Gospel reading, it says “six days later”. It would be interesting to know what had happened six days before. Six days before, Jesus foretold his death and resurrection that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again (Mark 8:31). The foretelling must shock the apostles, who wanted Jesus to be the earthly Messiah.
Knowing how they felt, six days later, Jesus took them to Mount Thabor, where it is said to be the tradition site of Transfiguration, and showed them the vision of Christ glorified. This was a privileged moment for the eye-witnesses, Peter, John and James. They could never forget this glorious moment as we can see John wrote some 60 years later, “We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us— we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete (1 John 1:1-4).
Also, Peter remembered this moment vividly when he wrote to churches in Asia Minor from Rome about 30 years later after the vision, “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honour and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain (2 Peter 1:16-18).
The three apostles not only eye-witnessed the glimpse of Christ’s future glory, they also heard from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” The vision and sound of the transfiguration of Jesus strengthened and encouraged them to remain faith at Jesus’ passion and death. Through them, we are reminded that who is the One that we follow is none other than the Son of God. He is also the head of the Holy Church. If he was not the Son of God, the church that he founded could not have survived more than twenty centuries, with enemies both within and without.
Today, we thank our Lord Jesus Christ for giving his consoling and encouraging vision of his glory to his apostles and through them to us. It was for them and for us, a guarantee and a foretaste of the joy and the glory that be ours for eternity.
Of course, we have struggles in the world against the flesh and evil. But if we rely on our Savior and think of Mount Thabor and the glorified Jesus, it will help us to carry our crosses walking towards the future glory that is ours. So be thankful to God today and forever. Amen.