Become What You Behold!
Celebrating the Feast of Transfiguration brings joyful memories of the Holy Land to my heart. If you have not been to the Holy Land, it’s worth doing if you can. I had the privilege of leading parishioners on a pilgrimage on several occasions to these special places that shaped our Christian faith. Each time I visited the Holy Land Mount Tabor, where the Jesus transfigured himself in the presence of his close disciples, stands out for me. There is a feeling of calmness and peace that surrounds this mountain top. It is difficult to put in words. The splendor and joy of what happened there over two thousand years ago on Mount Tabor still evokes deep feelings of awe, joy and satisfaction.
It was an eye-opening moment to these close companions of Jesus. Peter could not withhold his amazement. He volunteered to build three tents for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. Perhaps he was carried away in the moment, but he alluded to the truth: to be with God is the best place to be. And that is our ultimate destiny. The three disciples were overjoyed by their experience of Christ’s radiance. This encounter exposed them to a glimpse of God’s glory. It opened an invitation to enter into the interior life of Jesus Christ. They saw his divinity, which left an indelible mark, transforming them through the radiance of his splendor.
This singular event reveals to us the Lord’s true nature. He is the beloved Son of God, to whom we must listen to. He is the voice of hope. He is the one we must look up to. We cannot afford to ignore him; he wants his disciples to know that. He took them to the mountain top. They did not get there by themselves. The Lord wanted to reveal himself to them in such a spectacular way, vivid and full of splendor. He wanted Peter, James and John to be witnesses of this marvelous transfiguration. He wanted to prepare them for the scandal of the cross that awaits him. The suffering and death that was ahead will not diminish this glory.
For a moment, Peter, James and John saw God’s glory and heard his voice. They too experienced the past in the presence of Moses and Elijah, showing a continuity of God’s work of salvation and bringing to fulfillment the law and the prophecy. After this experience of transfiguration, the Lord came down from the mountain and headed toward Jerusalem where suffering, death and resurrection awaited him.
He also revealed our nothingness by his brilliancy. His splendor exposed our weaknesses and vulnerabilities. It helps us come to terms with our own sinfulness and unworthiness. However, it is his splendor that will cleanse us and wipe away our iniquities. Jesus sparks in our hearts the desire for holiness. Peter rightly said, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here!” To be with God is our ultimate destiny and vocation, because God made us for himself and only in him can we find rest.
Why would he undergo all these troubles if not for his love for us? A love that we cannot fathom, but always feel its presence. Our Lord Jesus appeals to us: “Become what you behold!”
When Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Let his splendor attract you and his brilliance cleanse you. Only then can we say it is good to be here.
Grace and peace to you,
Fr. Vitalis Anyanike Pastor