The Transfiguration. Both His and ours.

Today’s Gospel Reading is Matthew 17:1-9.

Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone.

As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, “Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”


Quite a picture, isn’t it? Jesus transfigured before Peter, James, and John. And as if that weren’t enough Moses and Elijah appear and hold a conversation with Christ, a bright cloud over shadows them all, God speaks to them, after which … Everything returns to normal. Everything returns to normal, including Peter.

I love Peter. He’s a lesson in the flesh. Very human. And his being so very human tells me a lot. Knowing that Jesus is going to leave him in charge of his Church tells even more. God takes a rough around the edges fisherman, one given to bravado, a man who speaks first and thinks later, a man who’s not ashamed to cry when he has reason to, and does so much with him that its amazing. Because watching Peter through the pages of the Bible its pretty evident that he’s not Papal material on his own. And I’d bet Peter knew that better than anyone. Which is why he didn’t try to be anything on his own. Everything that Peter became he became because he learned the hard way, with bitter tears, to remain close to Christ regardless the cost. He stopped counting the cost. When Peter did that, when he counted on God rather than counting the cost, God used him as that rock to build His Church upon. And all of this is pretty amazing.

But right now, at the Transfiguration, Peter was still the same old Peter. He opens his mouth without any real clue as to what’s going to come out. Which is one more reason I like Peter so much. His example, the before and after, gives me hope. Often as not that hope comes after I’ve opened my own mouth without thinking. You see, it was Jesus who was transfigured on that hill top, but Peter was also undergoing a transfiguration all his own, along with the others, and hopefully “the others” includes you and me. It was gradual compared to THE Transfiguration but it was every bit as real. Peter was in the process of being perfected.

There are times in our lives when some truly miraculous things take place. Some, like the Sacrifice of the Mass, happen very regularly. Hopefully we don’t get so used to it that we stop seeing the miracle. Bread and wine changed, transfigured, and given to us by God for our own transfiguration. Just like Peter we’re in the process of being perfected, of being transfigured. What that will lead to for us, like Peter’s future role in the Church, only God knows. But God does know and we can both trust and rest in that.

Its Lent. This is a time for us to give God the opportunity to speed up the process of our transfiguration. Prayer, fasting from certain foods or maybe fasting from certain activities or even mindsets, penance, good works, and maybe just taking the time to stand still long enough to let the miracle happen. This is our chance to allow God to grant us our own transfiguration.

Take a hint from Pope St. Peter. Say what you feel, cry when you need to. But when its all said and done experience the transfiguration that is yours, the one God has planned for you. Just think about what a great conversation topic that will make for you and St. Peter in Heaven. 😉