Enter the Mystery

Today’s feast of the Transfiguration this year falls on a Sunday. What a gift!

I am sitting outside of the seminary during a torrential thunderstorm waiting for it to subside. It’s dark and the car is shaking. I am looking at this icon thinking of the scene in the Sunday Gospel. The three “core group” disciples, having just scaled a high mountain with Jesus, are suddenly overcome by this stunning vision of their Master suffused with blinding light, flanked by Moses and Elijah, overshadowed by the “bright cloud” of the Spirit and deeply shaken by the sound of the Father’s thundering voice commanding obedience to His Son’s teaching. This is a full-fledged theophany, an appearing of the deepest secret of God: Tri-unity abiding in our flesh.

The first reading from the Mass today punctuates the awesomeness of what is being manifest here on the mountain, the mystery that roars ceaselessly in heaven: the Ancient of Days, from whom uncreated fire ceaselessly surges, around whom all of creation is arrayed in worship and by whom all things are judged. In the moment of the Transfiguration, Jesus permitted the disciples to glimpse what is always true of Him as “God from God, Light from Light.” Terrifying and fascinating all at once. God.

The disciples in the icon bear the proper posture before a vision of God: free-falling. As Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī said so well, “to know God one must sell cleverness and purchase bewilderment.” Along with these three disciples, Moses, who spoke to God on the mountain “face to face” (Ex. 33:11), and Elijah, who hid his face at God’s appearing on a mountain (1 Kings 19:13) today invite us, through the sacred Scriptures, to prayerfully encounter the the human Face of God, Jesus Christ.

Dare to enter the mystery.

11 comments on “Enter the Mystery

  1. MB says:

    …sell cleverness and purchase bewilderment. ”

    To our knees. Amen.

  2. Jennifer says:

    “Ancient of Days” – the term gives me goosebumps.

    Oh, my Jesus! Just imagining what it would be to have been with your disciples and to have witnessed your true identity like that…visible to man as you were to your Father. What Glory! Who are we to be invited into the life of this most Holy Trinity? And yet, we are! And entrusted to bear the light of the three-is-one out into the world in such shabby jars of clay?

    May we praise Him on the mountaintop in His brilliant radiance; may we praise Him all the more in the shadowy valley, luminous in the dark! Praise be to God; all praise to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Sear my eyes with the brilliance of the transfiguration that all I see will burn with You.

  3. Katy says:

    “The disciples in the icon bear the proper posture before a vision of God: free-falling.” What a perfect depiction. Thank you for pointing that out. The Gospels seem to agree:

    “He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.” Mark 9:6

    “But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.”
    And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone.” Matthew 17:7-8

    In response to our free-fall, Jesus offers his touch. Perhaps the ‘core three’ disciples were shaken and ‘so afraid they didn’t know what to say’ because, well, what do you do when you’re invited to listen to Jesus’ voice above your own? Invited to listen to Jesus’ voice above a spirit telling them they had to ‘do something to be there with Him’. ‘It is good that we are here…let us build three tents!’ But Peter, you did nothing to be here, and nothing is required of you to stay with Him!

    It is terrifying, in a good (but very legitimate!) way, to know that Jesus is serious in His invitation to me to listen more to Him than myself. Especially in regard to sin. As St. Ignatius says, our inclination is to ‘wound, kill, and go down to hell’, but this is not the way of Jesus. Jesus touches, lifts, and is ‘alone together’ with us. From the Acathist Hymn, “Jesus, your judgement is my consolation.” And how beautiful the words of the Father in light of this hymn of praise. “This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him. (His judgment is your consolation.)”

    Our free-fall stops only because of the touch of Christ. And then we raise our eyes and see no one else but Jesus alone.

    • Jennifer says:

      Wow, Katy! This: “But Peter, you did nothing to be here, and nothing is required of you to stay with Him! ” What a great insight, really stabbing me in the heart! Love your description of our free-fall being interrupted safely, gently, by His touch! Thanks be to God!

  4. Nos says:

    ” small scale” never apologize for the excitement !!! but especially the joy you receive !!! from other believers!!!!!!! This is who you are an unabashed proclaimer Of the GOOD NEWS ! ! ! ! ! ! ! . . . as is KATE ! ! ! “J” I hope your preparing for the upcoming winter brrrrrrrr I know I am , shorts and T Shirts all around… P.B.W.Y.A.A.

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