I always thought it odd when Jesus would tell anyone not to talk about the miracle that just happened. How could a leper be silent after seeing his skin become clean? How could man who had his sight restored be silent? No, it seems that these are the kind of miracles that would make it impossible not to tell anyone. Peter, James and John have an experience in today’s gospel that even goes beyond a miraculous healing. The transfiguration gave those disciples a glimpse of the divinity of Jesus and the reality of why he came. It also gave them a glimpse of our own transformation promised through the outpouring of the Spirit. But they are told not to talk about any of this until the Son comes again in glory – and they do remain silent.
I believe what happened that day was an encounter so internally powerful that they could not even begin to give voice to it. It was not the kind of an event that you could tell anyone about for its meaning went far beyond the vision. At that moment, their understanding had not yet come to grips with the reality of all that was to come. So their reaction is exactly what you can see in people today as they encounter Christ in a powerful way. We just want to remain in the Glory of God’s love and presence.
It seems that once we find that comfortable place in our faith journey we don’t go any further. We settle in and get comfortable with where we are and just remain there. God brought them back to a reality when he said “this is my beloved Son, listen to him.” If we listen we too will discover it is not about remaining in one place enjoying the presence of God. It is about letting the encounter transform us. Then we can grow in holiness and use our gifts to spread the good news. What we should gain from our transformative experience is that we must keep going deeper and growing in our relationship with God. Through our transformation, we know “that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God” (Rom.8:38-39). We understand and feel this love. Our life and our faith show that this reality of forgiveness changed us.
Too few Christians understand the desire of God to forgive. Note I say desire to forgive. I am not talking of his ability to forgive. I am speaking of the fear we live with of his punishment when we fall short. We have been programmed with the concept that we will reap what we have sown. We will get what we deserve. Nothing in this life is free, we must pay for it. All these simple philosophical guides for our life have programmed us to believe we must pay the piper for our mistakes. It also programs us to believe in what we call fairness. We get rewarded for hard work and when we don’t do what is expected we are punished.
Yet when it comes to God’s mercy, we find that God does not follow that creed. It is not what we do but where our heart is that is rewarded. Sin in scripture is always forgiven and no one who asks for forgiveness is punished. Amazing isn’t it. This is not some feel good gospel I am making up. Just look at the scripture stories and you will discover this truth. God revealed his nature in the works and words of Christ and we see in Christ’s actions mercy beyond measure. When Christ said “when you see me you see the Father.” So we look at the stories to see how God treats the sinner and the righteous.
Need examples – God rewarded those last workers in the vineyard with the same pay as those who worked all day. The righteous cry out it is not fair. Christ offers the “good thief” ” paradise. The righteous say what happened to penance for sin. Christ tells the woman caught in adultery to “go and sin no more.” The righteous say she must be punished. The prodigal son is restored without any hesitation and his return is celebrated. The righteous son is angry at the treatment the prodigal son receives when he is embraced without penalty. Why, because he has followed all the rules of the Father and got nothing. In all these stories we would say it is not fair. But that is God’s fairness. All these stories tell us what is available to those who believe. Those in the stories received God’s mercy and were changed – transformed – restored – made righteous. Use your own term but it happened because of God’s mercy not their works.
Christ transformation on that mountain gives us a glimpse of our own transformation. What God promised he would do within us. Give us new hearts and a new Spirit (Ezekiel 11:19). God promised would change us into the very image of Christ through the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 3:18). We are told by Paul that we become new creations when we embrace Christ (2 Cor. 5:12)
It is time my brothers and sisters to open ourselves to be challenged by the gospel to make this Lenten one of allowing ourselves to be transformed. Let us place ourselves in a position to make a decision to be like those on the mountain top and on the mount of Calvary and embrace the grace offered us by his death.