Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration. And while the Transfiguration is a crucial moment in the Gospels and in the life of Christ, it can be hard to see how it relates to us now. Is it just an event that happened thousands of years ago, or is it something that can still inform how we live and how we grow in our relationship with the Lord?
Patrick Conley recently stepped in as a guest host on St. Joseph’s Workshop, where he reflected on the Transfiguration and how it is a source of great hope, just as it was to the apostles thousands of years ago. Patrick Conley said:
“The Transfiguration is right around the hinge point in the Gospel of Mark. There are 16 chapters, and the first eight chapters end with Jesus’ first prediction of His suffering. And then we come back and the Gospel of Mark tells us that six days later Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up with Him on a high mountain and the Transfiguration occurs.
It’s like He has set them up to understand that the Messiah, the savior of the world, is going to suffer and die at the hands of men. Which would blow them away. They just could not take it in. We know that Peter will say, ‘This will never happen, Lord. I won’t let this happen to you.’ And that’s when Jesus rebukes him and says, ‘Get behind me, Satan. For you have in mind the things of men and not the things of God.’
But then, as if just planting seeds of hope, He takes them up and His divine glory is revealed before them. Not in its fullness, but it is revealed before them so that they know that even death cannot take Jesus away from them. And what a tremendous gift that is.
And, of course, it’s included in the Gospels so we, the readers today in the 21st century, we can understand that that is still the case. That even death cannot, ultimately, separate us from life if we but trust and hope in God.
In Baptism we are incorporated into Christ, we are made partakers in His divine nature. We are transfigured. The process of transfiguration has begun in us, by the planting of that divine seed, by that indelible character that is given to us in the sacrament of Baptism.
St. Paul reminds us that all of us ‘gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord, who is the Spirit.’
So glory is actually an object of our hope. This glory that Peter, James, and John saw in the Transfigured Jesus, that is something that became an object of their hope. But that hope begins now. It starts with the person of Jesus. That hope begins in our midst now, that we can start understanding and living into that hope of glory. [The feast of the Transfiguration] is an invitation for us to gaze with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord.”
Listen to the full reflection below: