He was transfigured before them, and His clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus.
The absolute purity, perfection, wisdom, and justice of God make encounters with Him a fearful event. None of us is really worthy of such an opportunity. Additionally, what would we say? How could or would we explain ourselves. His all-knowing presence would see into the deepest parts of our hearts and minds. All would be revealed. We would be crushed in our own sins.
Very few in Old Testament times sought out an encounter with God. Those who knew Him either lived in fear and trembling or ignored Him and went their own way. Yet, God did not let Himself remain distant and unknown.
In Old Testament times, God set forth to walk with men and women. He encountered them, called to them, and led them. Among those who encountered God were: Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham (as we hear in today’s first reading and at other times in his life), Sarah, Hagar, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Solomon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, Daniel, and many of the prophets.
With Jesus coming, all who saw and met Him met God in the flesh. The people who recognized Him as Messiah prior to His resurrection included: Mary, John the Baptist (in the womb and when they met at Jesus at the Jordan), Simeon and Anna, Peter, the Samaritan woman at the well, Martha and Mary, the Thief on the Cross, the Centurion at the cross. After the resurrection, the remaining Apostles and 500 disciples and the two traveling to Emmaus recognized who He was.
We, like those who met Jesus after His Ascension (Stephen, Paul, and Ananias) are also able to encounter God. He remains close and accessible to us
St. Paul offers us the same reassurance he had. He does not say that that we are somehow perfect or worthy of encountering God on our own, but that God has extended Himself to us. He has chosen us and has reconciled us so that we may encounter Him in love and fellowship. By His effort – the graces won by his Son, Jesus – we are able to freely draw close to Him. Our sins no longer crush us. In fact, they have been washed away.
Today we see the three accompany Jesus up the mountain. There, they are treated to the Divine vision; the eternal breaking into the world. Jesus is completely revealed to them. Again, God reaches out to us. The encounter with God did not kill the three. Instead, they saw all God is and all He offers.
This Lent is the chance. It is the time to draw close encountering God, to remain with Him and to enter into His Divine life in new freedom without fear.