2

Transfigure Thou Me

Jesus took Peter, 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 fuller on earth could bleach them.
Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses,
and they were conversing with Jesus.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Rabbi, it is good that we are here!
Let us make three tents:
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.
Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them;
from the cloud came a voice,
“This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone
but Jesus alone with them.

As they were coming down from the mountain,
he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone,
except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
So they kept the matter to themselves,
questioning what rising from the dead meant.

Mark 9: 2-10

 

 

 

 

 

 

A striking feature of the Gospels in how faithfully the inspired authors set down what Christ said and did, whether they understood it or not.  The bewilderment of the Apostles to the Transfiguration I fully share in.  For a moment Christ dropped the flesh he was veiled in and stood revealed as the great I AM, the Second Person of the Trinity, and Peter, James and John reacted with sheer terror.  Our intellects, made dark here below by sin, cannot grasp such a thing, so Christ was perceived as a blinding white light.  No passage in the Gospels better illustrates the infinite gulf between Man and the God who made us.

Yet we are to become like Him if we win our battle against our sins, and grasp tight the lifeline of His grace.  One day, in the Beatific Vision, we will see God face to face, not as blinding light but as love incarnate.  However, to accomplish this we must be transfigured, shedding ourselves of our sins, our cowardice, our arrogance, our folly and the hardness of our hearts, making our souls as He made them, pure and undefiled.  In Purgatory the transfiguration is accomplished for those of us who die in a state of grace and are not ready for Heaven.

Dante described Purgatory as a place of joyous suffering where the penances match the sins, and where sinful Man is prepared for the Eternal Joy of Heaven.  May God grant to all of us the determination to begin our path of transfiguration today and not tomorrow, and to follow that path until we reach the mansion that God has prepared for us in the Kingdom of Love Eternal.

 

Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
John Donne

Transfigure Thou Me

Jesus took Peter, 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 fuller on earth could bleach them.
Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses,
and they were conversing with Jesus.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Rabbi, it is good that we are here!
Let us make three tents:
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.
Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them;
from the cloud came a voice,
“This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone
but Jesus alone with them.

As they were coming down from the mountain,
he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone,
except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
So they kept the matter to themselves,
questioning what rising from the dead meant.

Mark 9: 2-10

 

 

 

 

 

 

A striking feature of the Gospels in how faithfully the inspired authors set down what Christ said and did, whether they understood it or not.  The bewilderment of the Apostles to the Transfiguration I fully share in.  For a moment Christ dropped the flesh he was veiled in and stood revealed as the great I Am, the Second Person of the Trinity, and Peter, James and John reacted with sheer terror.  Our intellects, made dark here below by sin, cannot grasp such a thing, so Christ was perceived as a blinding white light.  No passage in the Gospels better illustrates the infinite gulf between Man and the God who made us.

Yet we are to become like Him if we win our battle against our sins, and grasp tight the lifeline of His grace.  One day, in the Beatific Vision, we will see God face to face, not as blinding light but as love incarnate.  However, to accomplish this we must be transfigured, shedding ourselves of our sins, our cowardice, our arrogance, our folly and the hardness of our hearts, making our souls as he made them, pure and undefiled.  In Purgatory the transfiguration is accomplished for those of us who die in a state of grace and are not ready for Heaven.

Dante described Purgatory as a place of joyous suffering where the penances match the sins, and where sinful Man is prepared for the Eternal Joy of Heaven.  May God grant to all of us the determination to begin our path of transfiguration today and not tomorrow, and to follow that path until we reach the mansion that God has prepared for us in the Kingdom of Love Eternal.

 

Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
John Donne
3

Pope Leo the Great on The Transfiguration

 

 

The Gospel lesson, dearly-beloved, which has reached the inner hearing of our minds through our bodily ears, calls us to the understanding of a great mystery, to which we shall by the help of God’s grace the better attain, if we turn our attention to what is narrated just before.

The Saviour of mankind, Jesus Christ, in founding that faith, which recalls the wicked to righteousness and the dead to life, used to instruct His disciples by admonitory teaching and by miraculous acts to the end that He, the Christ, might be believed to be at once the Only-begotten of God and the Son of Man. For the one without the other was of no avail to salvation, and it was equally dangerous to have believed the Lord Jesus Christ to be either only God without manhood, or only man without Godhead , since both had equally to be confessed, because just as true manhood existed in His Godhead, so true Godhead existed in His Manhood. To strengthen, therefore, their most wholesome knowledge of this belief, the Lord had asked His disciples, among the various opinions of others, what they themselves believed, or thought about Him: whereat the Apostle Peter, by the revelation of the most High Father passing beyond things corporeal and surmounting things human by the eyes of his mind, saw Him to be Son of the living God, and acknowledged the glory of the Godhead, because he looked not at the substance of His flesh and blood alone; and with this lofty faith Christ was so well pleased that he received the fullness of blessing, and was endued with the holy firmness of the inviolable Rock on which the Church should be built and conquer the gates of hell and the laws of death, so that, in loosing or binding the petitions of any whatsoever, only that should be ratified in heaven which had been settled by the judgment of Peter.

But this exalted and highly-praised understanding, dearly-beloved, had also to be instructed on the mystery of Christ’s lower substance, lest the Apostle’s faith, being raised to the glory of confessing the Deity in Christ, should deem the reception of our weakness unworthy of the impassible God, and incongruous, and should believe the human nature to be so glorified in Him as to be incapable of suffering punishment, or being dissolved in death. And, therefore, when the Lord said that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and scribes and chief of the priests, and the third day rise again, the blessed Peter who, being illumined with light from above, was burning with the heat of his confession, rejected their mocking insults and the disgrace of the most cruel death, with, as he thought, a loyal and outspoken contempt, but was checked by a kindly rebuke from Jesus and animated with the desire to share His suffering. For the Saviour’s exhortation that followed, instilled and taught this, that they who wished to follow Him should deny themselves, and count the loss of temporal things as light in the hope of things eternal; because he alone could save his soul that did not fear to lose it for Christ. In order, therefore, that the Apostles might entertain this happy, constant courage with their whole heart, and have no tremblings about the harshness of taking up the cross, and that they might not be ashamed of the punishment of Christ, nor think what He endured disgraceful for themselves (for the bitterness of suffering was to be displayed without despite to His glorious power), Jesus took Peter and James and his brother John, and ascending a very high mountain with them apart, showed them the brightness of His glory; because, although they had recognised the majesty of God in Him, yet the power of His body, wherein His Deity was contained, they did not know. And, therefore, rightly and significantly, had He promised that certain of the disciples standing by should not taste death till they saw “the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom ,” that is, in the kingly brilliance which, as specially belonging to the nature of His assumed Manhood, He wished to be conspicuous to these three men. For the unspeakable and unapproachable vision of the Godhead Itself which is reserved till eternal life for the pure in heart, they could in no wise look upon and see while still surrounded with mortal flesh. The Lord displays His glory, therefore, before chosen witnesses, and invests that bodily shape which He shared with others with such splendour, that His face was like the sun’s brightness and His garments equalled the whiteness of snow. Continue Reading