(Fr. Dexter Brereton)
The Fathers of the Church reading this well known story of the transfiguration of Jesus, see it as a preparation of the disciples for the scandal of Holy Thursday and Good Friday when their master would be violently seized, taken from them and brutally executed. They are given a glimpse of the ‘end’ when Jesus will return triumphantly. Think of the modern miracle of ‘time-lapse’ photography when on film, we can show the germination and growth of a plant from a seed in a matter of a few minutes. In the same manner, on the mount of the transfiguration, time is ‘speeded up so that Peter, James and John catch a glimpse of Jesus in triumphant glory when he comes again.
The story can be read meditatively as a spiritual journey with each of the characters in this story symbolizing someone we know or even a part of ourselves, or a book, or an insight. Let your imagination run freely. The line in the story that attracted my attention was the following: “When they heard this, the disciples fell on their faces, overcome with fear.” This takes place after hearing the voice from the bright cloud which said to them (about Jesus) “This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour. Listen to him.” Here I think of people taking up a significant role or responsibility for the first time in their lives: a new class teacher, or better yet a new parent with their first baby. There is a part of us that cowers in fear before the ‘awesomeness’ of our new role. These are the parts of us that “fell on their faces overcome with fear.” But God’s message for us is all good: God trusts us. God trusts our wisdom and our instincts. God says to us in our new role “Go brave!” God says about our talents, our wisdom, our capability, “he/she/it enjoys my favour listen to it/ him/her!”
Lord we thank you for those times in our lives when you believed in us more than we believed in ourselves. You showed that you trusted us by allowing us to be placed in positions of trust: mothers, fathers, teachers, police officers, doctors, pastors, church leaders. Forgive us when we are tempted to run away from our responsibilities. Help us to believe that we will have the wisdom and strength to endure whatever comes. Amen.