Today, I want to think about the Transfiguration of Jesus with you. The liturgical feast of the Transfiguration is this Wednesday, August 6th (Matthew 17.1-9). Certain words come to mind when thinking of this significant event told in the Synoptic Gospels: radiance, awe in the apostles, the connectedness with Elijah and Moses, towering figures in the Hebrew tradition.. Jesus and his disciples were headed for
when they paused at Mt Tabor. There
Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James and John. In Jerusalem, dire experiences would happen,
including the passion and death of Jesus. Before the Resurrection, Jesus and
his followers would need the strength of the Transfiguration to steady themselves.
The experience of transfiguration is not just for Jesus, it is for us. We are called upon to witness to the transfiguration of Jesus, but also to witness to transfiguration in human life and to help it happen, however we can.:
to be the radiance of Christ for others
to be the voice of the Father of Jesus for others, saying to them “You are my
The antithesis of transfiguration is disfiguration, and so we come to August 6th, 1945, when an atomic bomb was dropped from the belly of the
airplane, Enola Gay, over the city of Hiroshima.
On that day, transfiguration gave way to disfiguration: devastation, death, horror,
disbelief. The face of God was scarred beyond imagination. God’s beloved, the innocent ones were unrecognizable in the aftermath . Its horror was underscored with death- dealing emphasis on August 9, when
was bombed with an even stronger atomic bomb.
Today, we see the disfigurement caused in newborns whose mothers were on drugs, the distended bloated bodies of the starving in impoverished parts of the world, the wounded in war-zones, our own veterans.
People of good will do not inflict diabolical evil on others. But unless we are alert and God-centered, we can and do disfigure others by our blindness to the radiance of Christ in them. On the other hand, we can use the power for good that we have. We can encourage people whose faces are disfigured by boredom, horrendous life experiences or masked with indifference. We can bring a glow of dignity to those who have been humiliated. We can speak words of hope and bring a realization of true worth to those whose faces reflect a belief in their own unimportance.
Transfiguration is a human venture today as well as the divine experience of Jesus in distant
Galilee over two thousand years ago. “Be attentive to it
as to a lamp shining in a dark place.” (2 Peter 1.19)