The Transfiguration of Jesus

08-06-2017Weekly ReflectionFather Barnabas Duniya

Jesus speaks of himself as the 'son of man.' He used the generic expression that simply means 'man.' He used this expression to avoid misunderstandings that other titles say; king or messiah, might have caused.

He used the term also to refer to the vision in the book of Daniel in the first reading: 'son of man' refers to the one, who brings salvation to the world, which is a clear prophecy of the coming Messiah (Mt.20:28; Jn.3:13; 18:36).

The distance between the kingdom of this world and the kingdom of God can be compared to the distance between the instincts of wild beasts and the feelings of a heart of man. Jesus begins the new kingdom of God.

The Gospel brings out the surprising way chosen by God to establish his kingdom. It was not going to be a kingdom founded on power – as the kingdoms before him – but a kingdom founded on self-giving and love.

If we look at what is happening all around us, we can easily be discouraged and might even conclude that the kingdom of God will never be established in this world. We see that even after two thousand years 'the beasts' seem to be winning.

The transfiguration tells us something about Jesus' personality: he is the Lord (v.4), the Son of God, in whom God is well pleased (v.5; Is. 42:1); we must listen to him, for he reveals God to man: he that would question God or seek any vision or revelation, would not only be acting foolishly, he would be committing an offense against God by not seeing his eyes solely upon Christ and seeking no new thing or aught beside.

This difficulty has been raised since the first century – as we read in the second reading. The reply – says Peter – is to be sought in the 'lamp shining in the dark place'; the word of God entrusted to us.

The transfiguration of Christ is undoubtedly one of the most momentous occasions in his life and ministry. The Lord was on his way to Jerusalem to suffer terribly and to die. His humanity needed some strengthening for the task ahead. Also, his disciples needed some reassurance that all their hopes in him were not for nothing. They too would suffer later for the kingdom.

The transfiguration is the foretaste of the reward to come to any Christian who would accept to suffer for the sake of the Faith: a tip of the beatific vision.

The transfiguration brings us to the reality of faith. Faith has high and low moments: mountain moments and the valley moments. In any case, we are to accept suffering for the sake of our faith; we must move on form the low points in life to the higher point in God through pains and tribulations. This is self-transcendence.