The Transfiguration is one of those rare moments when St Mark and St Matthew pull aside the veil and we see Christ as close to who He is as our humanity can take. Usually we see only through a glass darkly, but here we see Him if not as we shall see Him hereafter, then as close as we shall get this side of the grave. The intense whiteness emphasised by St Mark in his comment that Christ’s garments appeared whiter than any “fuller on earth” could bleach them, is a sign to us as well as a reminder that at the resurrection we shall rise purified of all our iniquities; the corruptions of this world will be blotted out. We see Jesus truly in the form of God while remaining no less human.
St Peter, as so often, does what we might want to do. It is characteristic of him to want to build three tabernacles, but Jesus does not reply. Moses and Elijah are not His equals, but Peter, dear, keen, enthusiastic Peter who does not know what else to do or say, offers, as we do, to be helpful; sometimes though it is best to think first and wait on God’s word. And that word comes, and confirms what we were told at the Baptism in the Jordan.
It was on Sinai that Moses received the Commandments from God, as Elijah had also encountered God on the high mountain, and it is here, on Mt Tabor, that they bear witness to the identity of Christ who is the summary of the Law and the Prophets. As always, we see the Old Testament’s meaning revealed in the New, and it bears witness to Jesus being the Christ.
The eyes of the inner circles, Sts Peter, John and James are opened and their reaction mirrors ours – they fall on their faces in awe. How else could we react to Christ once He is revealed to us through the eye of Faith.
And here we are back in familiar territory. Those who saw were blessed and awestruck and believed, but we, like St Thomas, must believe through Faith as we know He dwells in our heart with thanksgiving. Just as God charged the Apostles to listen to Jesus and Mary told the sevants to do as He said, and just as John heard the voice of God, we too, when we hear that voice know what it is saying – “listen to Him.”
But how hard that is for us in the hustle and bustle of our everyday activities. Do we build a tabernacle in our hearts for Jesus? How can we, we might protest? There is always so much to do and so little time to do it. That, for me, is where the Rosary is a blessing. It can be prayed while I walk, indeed it is usually prayed while I walk, and while I pray reflections come to me (this is the product of one such walk). Are we so time poor that we cannot spare a few minutes for prayer? If we will build that tabernacle, He will answer us.
As so often, we are reminded that He loved us first. How hard can it be to love Him upon whom all the Law and the Prophets depend? How hard are our hearts? That, as Newman once reminded us, is why sometimes they have to be broken.