Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah’—not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!’ When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.
In all our lifetimes there have been momentous events. Many people tell us they can remember where they were when ‘such and such’ an event took place. I can certainly remember the assassination of President Kennedy, the first moon landing, the murder of John Lennon and the 9/11 atrocity. I am sure you will all have events like these that are firmly fixed in your memories. Or, were you weighed down with sleep and missed all that was of special note in your lives?
In today’s reading we hear of the moment of Jesus’ transfiguration. Jesus, who was once again in prayer on the mountain, is changed, just as Moses was changed when he had been in the presence of God. Jesus’ face and clothes became dazzling, and he was seen to be standing in the presence of the two greatest figures from the history of the Jewish nation. Jesus was transfigured from a very special human being into the one who was proclaimed my Son, my Chosen. Earlier this week we heard of Peter declaring Jesus to be the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Today we hear of that fact being revealed in all its glory.
As well as being a momentous moment in the history of the Christian Church, our reading contains a couple of details of which we should take special note. The disciples, we are told, were weighed down with sleep. That is precisely how we feel for much of the time. We are not awake and alert to the presence of God in our lives. Too often we miss the ‘big events’ because we succumb to that overwhelming desire to be spiritually asleep, rather than active in God’s service.
After the Transfiguration, the disciples kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen. The Transfiguration took place before the events of the first Holy Week and Easter. Keeping quiet until the reality of Christ’s mission made sense in those days. But, that is not where we are in the history of Christianity. We are post-resurrection people. We have been commissioned to spread the Good News and to tell everyone of the revealed glory of Jesus Christ, the one whose glory shone out on that mountainside two thousand years ago.
Then, the voice from the cloud said: listen to him! We are all called to stay awake and to listen for Christ’s call and Christ’s commission in our lives. We are all called to witness those momentous events which reveal the glory of Christ in this world. Let us pray that we might be invigorated to be willing and energetic disciples. Let us pray that we might not keep silent, but rather shout the Good News from the rooftops.