By Marta Alves
Searching trying to find information about the transfiguration of Jesus in Mount Tabor, I found a great resource in The Teachings Of Pope John Paul II On Cd-Rom.1 Most of the information compiled in this article is from that source.
Lent is a preparation for the Paschal Mystery
In John Paul II homily 1 on March 15, 1987 he expresses: “The fact that the Church, each year, recalls the Lord's Transfiguration in the Lenten liturgy, on the Second Sunday to be precise, shows us that Lent is a preparation for the paschal mystery in its fullness; not only for the Passion but also for the Resurrection. In substance, the theophany of the Transfiguration of the Lord on Mount Tabor prepares the Apostles for the Cross on Golgotha in the perspective of the Resurrection. Christ asks that the secret be kept concerning the theme of the event of Mount Tabor ‘until the Son of Man has risen from the dead’”.
Christians are called to be Transfigured
In John Paul II homily 2 on March 15, 1992, Christians are called to be transfigured. The following are excerpts of that homily:
On Tabor, while Jesus was at prayer, his face changed in appearance, his clothing became dazzling white and two men, Elijah and Moses, appeared at his side, and he was conversing with them about "his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem" (Lk 9:31), that is, about his coming passion and death. Moses and Elijah are famous figures of the Old Testament: the former is the guide and lawmaker of the people, the other the prophet of the fire which destroys iniquity; both of them prefigure the Messiah, the new deliverer, the one who brings the new fire of salvation to earth. The beauty of the vision captivates the three Apostles. Peter wants to prolong the vision as long as possible and exclaims: "Master, . . . let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah" (Luke 9:33). But while he was speaking thus a cloud came and covered them. Seeing nothing, they were afraid, but they were comforted by the Father's voice. 2
Tabor is the mystery of glory and passion. In fact, before describing the transfiguration, St. Luke reports Jesus' announcement of his death: "The Son of man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised" (Lk 9:33). In the transfiguration scene too Christ's death is the topic of conversation with Moses and Elijah. This death is called his "exodus," that is, his departure: Jesus "will depart," going from the passion to glory, from the earthly pilgrimage to the heavenly triumph. 2
The preface for this Sunday also recalls the link between the Lord's passion and glorification: "On your holy mountain he revealed himself in glory in the presence of his disciples. He had already prepared them for his approaching death. He wanted to teach them . . . that the promised Christ had first to suffer and so come to the glory of his resurrection". It is this last aspect of the mystery, which prevails in the transfiguration. 2
However, the episode of Jesus' transfiguration is also the source of a particularly meaningful faith, a step on the journey of faith on which the Lord so patiently guided his disciples. Faith is the choice for God above and beyond visible things. Faith is belonging to him with all one's being. Faith permits a person to see everything with God's eyes. Without faith there is no pleasing God. Jesus openly asked them to believe in him. And the Apostles, after so much hesitation, finally embraced the faith totally and irreversibly, to the supreme witness of their blood. 2
Apostles witnessed the transfiguration
In John Paul II homily 3 on August 6, 1995 he shares the joy that Peter, James and John must have felt when they witnessed the transfiguration:
"Master, it is well that we are here"
What joy is greater than that of contemplating Christ in his glory? Our eternal happiness shall consist precisely in this "face to face" vision of the Incarnate Word, in the light of the Trinity. 3
During the Transfiguration of the Lord on Mount Tabor, Peter, James and John had been able to experience in advance the joy and the meeting of the beatific vision of paradise. "We were eyewitnesses of his majesty", Peter would say (2 Pet 1:16), and John, for his part, would attest: "we have seen with our eyes, . . . we have looked upon and touched with our hands . . . the word of life" (1 Jn 1:1). 3
During the Transfiguration, as at other important occasions in the Lord's earthly life, it is Peter who speaks, making himself the spokesman for the other two apostles: Peter, the one who expresses the faith of the apostles, the faith of the church. 3
However, the episode of Jesus' transfiguration is also the source of a particularly meaningful faith, a step on the journey of faith on which the Lord so patiently guided his disciples. Faith is the choice for God above and beyond visible things. Faith is belonging to him with all one's being. Faith permits a person to see everything with God's eyes. Without faith there is no pleasing God. Jesus openly asked them to believe in him. And the Apostles, after so much hesitation, finally embraced the faith totally and irreversibly, to the supreme witness of their blood. 3
The Transfiguration as a foretaste of our Christian victory over Death
of our Christian victory over Death
In John Paul II homily 4 on March 7, 1993 he sees the transfiguration as a foretaste of our Christian victory over death:
Theophany- A manisfestation of God to man.
Transfiguration- The occasion described in the first three Gospels (Mt 17:1-13; Mk 9:2-13; Lk 9:28-36) when the divine glory of Christ was shown in a comprehensible way to the Apostles Peter, James, and John, through a change in His outward appearance and the presence with Him of Moses and Elijah. (Reverend Peter M.J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.L. Our Sunday Visitor's Catholic Dictionary. Copyright © 1993, Our Sunday Visitor.)
Written by Marta Alves - LEAP OF FAITH- www.faithleap.org - 031600
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