The Transfiguration of our Lord

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Valeriano Avila - The Freeman

It is the second Sunday of Lent and, as expected on this day, our gospel reading is on the Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ in the high mountain, which many researchers say is Mt. Tabor. You can read this piece in Matt.17: 1-9.

“17 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

“4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

“5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

“6 When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” 8 When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.

“9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

* * *

If you folks didn’t know, every second week of Lent our gospel is always about the Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus in Mt. Tabor. The reason given by the Catholic Church is that this was done by the Lord to give his close disciples, Peter, James, and John a preview of the things to come, especially when our Lord Jesus would be arrested and suffer in his coming passion and death on the cross. This was a sort of preparation by our Lord so that when his three disciples would see him suffer on the cross they would remember what they saw that happened to the Lord in top of Mt. Tabor.

But somehow, despite the fact that this was a very good preview of the things to come, we read in the Bible that the Lord’s followers were totally distraught that their master was caught by the Sanhedrin and crucified by the Romans. Of course later when our Lord had resurrected from the dead they remembered what happened to him in Mt. Tabor.

When they were up in Mt. Tabor They saw our Lord Jesus together with Moses and Elijah, two people who represented the law and the prophets. It does make me wonder how Peter, James, and John were able to recognize Moses and Elijah at a time when there were no photographs. Perhaps there were statues of Moses or Elijah, which is why they suggested to the Lord that they would erect three tents for the three of them. Of course, because of what they saw at the top of Mt. Tabor the disciples wanted to stay longer for they were awed by what they saw, which many authors would saw was a foretaste of heaven.

Also, with this gospel passage, it gives us an idea that in the New Testament, we only heard the voice of God the Father twice. The first was when our Lord Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist when he said in Mark 1:11 “You are my beloved Son.” Or in Matt. 3:17 “This is my beloved Son.” Most Biblical scholars believe that God the Father was speaking directly to his only begotten son.

In today’s gospel reading the voice says, “and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” In this message, God the Father was speaking directly to his disciples so they would finally understand and accept that their master was indeed the Son of God! Israeli historians say that there are two mountains considered as the site of our Lord’s Transfiguration. It’s either Mt. Hebron which is near Ceasarea Philippi or Mt. Tabor. I believe Mr. Tabor is the right site as Mt. Hebron is always very cold and snow-covered. When I went to Mt. Tabor, it had a strange cloud on top, which for me was a Shekinah Glory cloud. I call that a small miracle for my visit.

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