Did that
happen?

Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother, John, 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.

As we look into the experience of Peter, James, John, and Jesus at the Transfiguration we first face the question of: Why did this happen? Is there a specific purpose for this account? Let’s take a moment to analyze the possibilities.

The Transfiguration was limited to only a few of the apostles. Why weren’t all apostles invited? Often times the Transfiguration is used to point to the fact that Jesus wanted to give His apostles reassurance before his Passion. If they were to face His humiliation and death, and maintain some level of faith, seeing Jesus in His Divine state would provide this reassurance. So, the question, why weren’t the rest of the apostles there, why were they excluded from this Divine reassurance?

Perhaps the Transfiguration was to point to the fact that Jesus is the fulfillment of both the Law and the prophecies. The appearance of Moses and Elijah who represent all the Law and the words of the prophets signifies that fact. More than that, Jesus transcends the Law and the Prophet as the Father’s voice directs the apostles, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” Again, who would know all this except Jesus and the three apostles?

The whole episode of the Transfiguration adds little to nothing to the public ministry and teaching of Jesus. It had no direct import on the wider public Jesus was trying to draw into the Kingdom. In fact, Jesus told the apostles to keep silent about it, to tell no one, until after His resurrection. Yet it is recorded in three gospels and Peter speaks of it in his second letter. Why so?

When something totally and remarkably unusual happens, a lot of people refuse to believe it. We can see this with the moon landing in 1969. There are people, who to this very day, refuse to believe it happened. The Transfiguration event is certainly amazing, it is certainly beyond our comprehension, and that’s exactly why it is recorded. It is recorded because it is unique to people of faith. We, Christians own this event by our faith in Jesus. Only the faithful get it and are changed by it.

The word “transfigured” means a change to the outside so that it matches what is inside. The remembrance of Jesus’ transfiguration is our call to get it and be changed by it. It is our call to show faith that holds hope greater than fear, that allows us to shine in godly destiny, to overcomes the earthly with glory. Let us then be changed – believing our astounding God holds amazing joyous life for us.

Getting back to
Eden.

What does Scripture say? The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart —that is, the word of faith that we preach—, for, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

This reflection is focused on the scriptures for the First Sunday of Lent and our Lenten preaching theme – Getting back to Eden.

St. Paul is writing to the Church at Rome reminding them that they have word.

The word had been given to them and they committed it, not just to rote memory. Rather, the word became a real and meaningful part of their lives. Their reception of God’s word was life changing.

God’s word was in their hearts and their actions were changed by it. Wherever they went, the word was on their lips and they proclaimed it.

The Church at Rome received the wonderful gift of the word and that word was transformative in their lives. They were changed by it. Their confession of faith – a confession that was through and throughout their lives – saved them. That word, that salvation made such a huge difference that over the next three centuries those at Rome were willing to suffer and die for the word.

Now we’ve used a rather big word here. God’s word was “transformative” to these people. What does that mean? It means they were changed at three essential levels.

The transformative effect of God’s word changed them (1) Psychologically – they had a new understanding of who they were. (2) Convictionally – they were part of a new and powerful belief system. (3) Behaviorally – every part of their lifestyle was changed.

Getting back to Eden starts with the realization that our exile is over. The people of Rome heard that. It changed them. They were cast out and are now being let in. The gates that were closed to them have been opened. That powerful image made real in the Good News – the word – transformed the people of Rome. That powerful word transforms to this day. It has transformed the life of every person who has come to belief in Jesus by faith.

Like the Church at Rome we have received God’s word. We have found faith in Jesus and have pledged our lives to Him. We confess His name and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead. We recognize we are saved and on the road back to Eden. So let us re-double our efforts in making His word active in our daily lives. Let us, like Rome, be mindful of the wonderful gift – the beautiful word – that is ours. Let us strengthen our faith, proclaim it, and allow it to work its transformative effect in our lives.