Tag Archives: Transfiguration of Jesus

The “Real Reason” the Pope’s Resigning

If we see the pope’s resignation only through the eyes of CNN or The New York Times we’ll miss so much. The pope himself chose to explain his action to the crowd in St. Peter’s square today in the context of the gospel story of the Transfiguration of Jesus and his  journey to Jerusalem.

He saw his own decision as a choice to ascend the mountain of prayer, which is not a way of escaping life, but of understanding it. He wants to serve the church, not  leave it, and so he embraces a life of prayer.

“We can draw a very important lesson from meditating on this passage of the Gospel. First, the primacy of prayer, without which all the work of the apostolate and of charity is reduced to activism. In Lent we learn to give proper time to prayer, both personal and communal, which gives breath to our spiritual life. In addition, to pray is not to isolate oneself from the world and its contradictions, as Peter wanted on Tabor, instead prayer leads us back to the path, to action. “The Christian life – I wrote in my Message for Lent – consists in continuously scaling the mountain to meet God and then coming back down, bearing the love and strength drawn from him, so as to serve our brothers and sisters with God’s own love “(n. 3).

Luke’s account of the Transfiguration sees this mystery pointing to the primacy of prayer in the life of Jesus and his disciples. Why not take the pope at his word? He intends to pray.

“Dear brothers and sisters, I feel that this Word of God is particularly directed at me, at this point in my life. The Lord is calling me to “climb the mountain”, to devote myself even more to prayer and meditation. But this does not mean abandoning the Church, indeed, if God is asking me to do this it is so that I can continue to serve the Church with the same dedication and the same love with which I have done thus far, but in a way that is better suited to my age and my strength. Let us invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary: may she always help us all to follow the Lord Jesus in prayer and works of charity.”

Transfiguration of Jesus

The Transfiguration of Jesus takes place at the midpoint of Matthew’s gospel, after Jesus says to his disciples that “he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” Take up your cross and follow me, he tells his disciples.

“God forbid, Lord,” says Peter who doesn’t understand this at all. We find it hard to understand too. Six days later, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up a mountain where they experience him glorified, surrounded by Moses and Elijah. It seems to be a transitory experience, one they can’t prolong. After falling to the ground, they looked up and “saw no one except Jesus himself alone.”

But the experience strengthens them for the rest of the journey they make. “The main purpose of the transfiguration was to remove the scandal of the cross from the hearts of Christ’s disciples,” says Pope Leo the Great.

What mountain does Jesus take us to strengthen us on our journey carrying our cross? St. Paul of the Cross and other spiritual guides say it’s the mountain of prayer where we experience intimations of God’s glory, brief encounters, and transfigurations of a lesser kind.

Lord Jesus,

lead me to that mountain place of stronger light and sure sound

where I may see your glory.

Light and truth, bright as blinding snow,

whom Peter, James, and John saw,

“Bring me to your holy mountain,

to your dwelling place.” Amen.

The Transfiguration of Jesus

The glorious transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain before his disciples came after he predicted his suffering and death and told his followers they must follow him.
Undoubtedly they found his sayings hard to hear. He had to go to Jerusalem, endure great suffering and be put to death, Jesus told them, adding: “Anyone who wishes to be a follower of mine must renounce self, take up his cross and follow me.”

Peter, as usual reacting for the others, protested “Heaven forbid! No, Lord, this shall never happen to you.” Most likely he was also thinking: “Nor should it happen to me, either.”

Yet are we less disturbed to hear about carrying a cross and losing our life?

In answer to his disciples’ misgivings, Jesus took Peter, James and John up a high mountain and was transfigured before them. They saw his face shining like the sun and his garments brilliant white.

They were filled with awe as they realized his glory was also theirs, a glory not only to be experienced in his future kingdom, but also here on earth.
The New Testament Letters of Peter, influenced by Peter’s experience, promise we will share God’s glory even now, in this present life. Even now, the dark places here and now can shine if we hold them up to the light of faith. ( 2 Peter 1:16-19)

It is not God’s will that the Cross burden us too much.

Even now, Jesus reveals his glory to us wayfarers, that we may rejoice. Even now, we can see intimations of God’s glory in our earthly lives, brief encounters, transitory moments, transfigurations of a lesser kind, as Jesus leads us to the mountain to see his glory.

Lord Jesus,
lead me to that mountainplace
of stronger light
and surer sound
where I may see your glory.

The mountain pilgrims climb,
up steep valley paths,
their clothes covered with everyday dust,
and tired in their bones.

The mountain of truth:
“Come, let us climb the Lord’s mountain
to the house of the God of Jacob,
where God instructs us in his ways
that we may walk in his paths.”

The lovely mountain
where lowly sparrows feast,
and one day outshines
thousands elsewhere
because you are there, my God.

The mountain close by,
within,
that I climb everyday;
the holy ground I stand on
now.

Light and truth,
bright as blinding snow,
whom Peter, James and John saw,
“Lead me on,
and bring me to your holy mountain,
to your dwelling place.”

For more,  see “lent and easter” at http://www.cptryon.org