The Transfiguration of the Lord
August 6, 2017
The image on this page looks like a picture of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead or perhaps his Ascension into heaven — but it is not. Instead, this is a reproduction of a beautiful mosaic in the dome of the Basilica of the Transfiguration at the top of Mount Tabor in Israel. The way you can tell this is because, in this mosaic, Jesus has no wounds. Here, Jesus has not suffered and died for us yet.
Among the many intriguing qualities of the resurrected body of Christ is that Jesus’ wounds are visible. His wounds are part of his glory. They tell us how much he loved us; loved us so much he was willing to suffer and die for us.
It is hard to imagine what life in heaven is like, but when we try to conceive of it, we can do no better than to picture the transfiguration, where Christ is revealed as a being of light, accompanied in glory by Moses and Elijah. No wonder St. Peter says, “Lord it is good that we are here!” (Luke 9:28-36). Peter wants to stay there forever, but he can’t — not yet, anyway — and neither can Christ.
For that matter, we can’t remain in a glorious mountaintop experience either — not yet. In the transfiguration, the disciples are given a glimpse of future glory, but the way to remain there permanently is by way of the cross. If it were possible, we too would like to visit this place and see Jesus in his glory, along with some of the saints from the other side. If it were possible, like Peter and the other disciples, we would like to bypass the way of the cross altogether and go right to Mount Tabor and bask in the glory of Christ.
That which we go through in life, both sufferings and glory, the Lord can work into a kind of transfiguration in our lives! Actually, every suffering, every sacrifice we make for Christ, always leads in the end to glory. When we unite our crosses to Christ, both the voluntary and the involuntary ones, they begin to mold and form us into the pattern of Jesus’ own life and death, and that, in turn, leads to glory.
How is this so? If I have suffered for someone I love, or have united my own suffering with that of a loved one, then you have really been through something together. Any wound we have born for the love of Christ will unite us with him forever, because love is what you have been through with someone. Jesus will periodically give us a glimpse of the glory with him to come as he accompanies us on our own way of the cross, now in the present moment, and throughout our lives.