The exhilaration one feels in the wake of a successful weight loss program or an addiction broken through a program like Alcoholics Anonymous is often enhanced by the compliments of friends and acquaintances. They applaud the transformation, especially if they have clear memories of “the old you.” The accomplishment is also a source of good example for those others trying to do the same.
There is a certain similarity here with the glorious event of Christ’s transfiguration. When the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity humbly hid His divine nature by accepting a human one, He took it on completely with all its limitations. We tend to forget that. He was “like us in all things, except sin.” So Lord in many ways looked ordinary to most observers, although He was at the same time a special Man. For example, He was undeniably approachable. Many men give off an air of cool indifference, especially to strangers. Jesus even attracted children, who are among the best detectors of phoniness.
Our Lord grew tired at the end of the day. He experienced the weariness of living with His mainly ignorant Apostles. He had to guard against using any spectacular devices in attracting followers. Only when He worked one of His miracles out of compassion, or as a teaching lesson, did the source of His power gradually become revealed. His apostles first came to Him because He was different in all the best ways. Gradually they recognized that He was also genuinely holy and close to God. Eventually He did tell them and His closest followers Who He was to end their guesswork.
But on this one special occasion, He pulled back the veil over His divine nature to allow them (and us) to glimpse His glory. One that Moses and Elijah, both long dead by human reckoning, were suddenly quite alive in another dimension. It had to be a spectacular sight for Peter, James and John. It must have included a massive dose of awe, joy and happiness combined. Not to omit a rebirth of trust in their inbred Hebrew hope of a Messiah.
Let us here reflect not on the sound and sights, but on the generated hope. As such, it is one of the three theological virtues, along with Faith and Charity, so-called because they “relate directly to the living God.” “They inform all the moral virtues and give them life” as the Catholic Catechism describes them. St. Paul indirectly refers to hope when we hear him ask today: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Hope, like all virtues, is also a “power” or ability given us by God which ushers forth trust in Him that injects us with dynamism about the present and optimism for the future.
This story of the transfiguration placed here at the start of Lent should be seen as our encouragement and reason to believe that we can overcome our addiction to sin. It energizes us to reach up in our struggle to be God’s friends when all around us is a gravitational pull downward. We can posit our own future transfiguration when we will repeat St. Peter’s words: “Lord, it is good to be here.”
God love you and give you His peace.