At his transfiguration on Mount Tabor, Jesus led the apostles apart, to a high place, Mt. Tabor in Galilee, where they could be alone. If we are trying to deepen our contact with God, we too need to let Jesus lead us away from the crowd. Whether that high place is a room, a bench in the park, a walk in the woods, or a car stuck in a traffic jam, God’s call to come away and listen is always there. Mt. Tabor can be anywhere: what matters is that we must be alert to the call.
Moses and Elijah who appear symbolise the Jewish Law and prophets. Meditating on their words in the Old Testament, we begin to see that Christ, who is hidden in the Scriptures, ‘appears.’ In reading and praying his face will shine and the Father’s voice will be heard. Prayer is never just gazing into a void. It is a response, a conversation with God who is always speaking to us.
St. Luke tells us that Jesus was speaking with Moses and Elijah about his ‘departure’, which he would accomplish in Jerusalem. The Greek word used is exodos, about which Moses was surely something of an expert! But after Easter ‘exodus’ will signify much more than God saving one nation from slavery in Egypt. It will mean God saving the human race from death through the passion, death, and resurrection of his beloved Son.
So notwithstanding the luminous cloud of this great feast we should not lose sight of the storm clouds forming on the horizon. Before leading Peter, James, and John up Mt. Tabor, Jesus warned them that he would one day be led to the cross; and after coming down the mountain he took the road to Jerusalem where certain death awaited him. The same three would follow him into the Garden of Gethsemane before his crucifixion, where they would fall asleep as he prayed in agony…
Finally this great feast tells us that God is always breaking through the veil surrounding himself. At every moment he is breaking through. The heavens have opened, the eternal Son has descended, the voice of the Father has been heard and the light of the Spirit has been revealed. Only one thing more is needed for our transfiguration – that we open our eyes to God’s light and listen to God’s voice sounding daily in our ears, then that we take up our cross and follow Jesus. There is no other way to see his glory.
Father in heaven,
whose Son Jesus Christ was wonderfully transfigured
before chosen witnesses upon the holy mountain,
and spoke of the exodus he would accomplish at Jerusalem:
give us strength so to hear his voice and bear our cross
that in the world to come we may see him as he is;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.