On Thursday we celebrated the Feast of the Transfiguration. We remembered the day when Jesus took Peter, James and John with him up a high mountain. In their presence he was transfigured: “His face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as the light”. Then: “Suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared to them; they were talking with him”.
In this passage, which I have taken from the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus is revealed in glory for the first time. While Peter is speaking, trying to get some control of the situation, he is interrupted: “Suddenly a bright cloud covered them with shadow, and from the cloud there came a voice which said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour. Listen to him’”.
This was to show the three disciples how much they should honour and worship Jesus by listening to him. This for us too. It is by honouring and worshipping Jesus that we shao that we truly regard him as our Saviour. To say Jesus is our Saviour implies that we should listen to him and do what he asks of us.
And yet we know that the cost of following Jesus is a certain suffering and even, for some, death. This may not feel like glory so we might be tempted to shy away from following Jesus. The Jesus who appeared in glory to Peter, James and John also suffered and died on the Cross. Jesus was to take the same three disciples to accompany him in his anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane. Even then, the three did not have the strength to stay awake and pray with him nor the courage to remain with Jesus after he was taken prisoner. The horror of the moment, the apparent display of weakness and defeat by Our Lord at that moment overwhelmed them.
There are sometimes overwhelming moments of suffering, despair and rejection in our lives, not to mention the horrors of deliberately inflicted suffering such as torture and war. But over the tortured body of Christ will be placed the white robe of resurrection and then the purple robes of his Kingship of the Universe.
There is another showing of Jesus’s special power in this Sunday’s Gospel when we see Jesus praying alone on a mountain and then coming down to walk on the water to rescue the disciples, who are terrified by a storm on the lake. If we are to be true disciples of Jesus this shows that we must have confidence in him.
I think a message we might take from this is that Jesus understands our tendency to lack confidence in him when things are difficult. He is reaching out to us now. Shall we allow ourselves to hear him offering us comfort and strength now?