Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord
August 6, 2017 – Year A
Readings: Dn 7:9-10, 13-14 / Ps 97 / 2 Pt 1:16-19 / Mt 17:1-9
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor
The first fifteen to twenty minutes in a movie theater are a preview of coming attractions. Movie makers and theater owners hope that the preview will catch our interest enough to bring us back to see the whole film.
Wedding rehearsals, graduation ceremony practices and First Communion rehearsals are also forms of previews of exciting upcoming events.I always enjoy watching the joyful faces of the children during First Eucharist rehearsals, at least up to the point where they have to taste the Mass wine, and that’s usually the time when they involuntarily make faces.
I know that the children don’t like the taste of wine very much. A few years ago one of the First Eucharist children in my former parish in Virginia Beach, after tasting the wine, asked the catechist if it would taste better during the actual Mass. But by and large, these kinds of previews and rehearsals are joyful experiences.
In the gospel we just heard, Peter, James, and John were given a preview of how Our Lord Jesus would look in His glorified body. The Transfiguration was a sneak preview of Easter and Our Lord’s final coming in glory to take us all home. The three disciples were very happy to have witnessed this rare event, and Peter wanted to build tents there, so they could stay on top of the mountain for an extended period of time.
Although that mountaintop experience lasted for only a few seconds, it must have given the disciples the strength necessary for the trials they would eventually endure: when they would see Our Lord’s suffering and death and when they themselves would be persecuted after Our Lord’s ascension into heaven.
Some wonder how we will look when we all get to heaven. This is probably a much better exercise for our imaginations than just thinking about our physical appearance here in this world. If a famous artist offered to paint a life-sized portrait of how we would look 30 years, 40 years, or 50 years from now, most of us would probably say, “No, thank you.” The late Mother Angelica used to jokingly say that in Heaven we will all look 33 years old. The basis for her guess was probably that the Lord Jesus rose from the dead and showed his glorified body to his disciples after his resurrection at the age of 33. But God in his infinite goodness and wisdom will make sure that, no matter how we look, as He promised, our joy will be complete.
There are millions of people who have undergone a so-called “near-death experience.” Some even claim that they caught a glimpse of heaven. Most of those who have been through this experience became very religious, charitable, and developed a strong desire to be close to God. But we know that we don’t need this near-death experience for us to have a spiritual awakening.
The lives of the saints and of other holy people who have gone before us tell us that, if we spend more time in prayer, if we see Jesus in the presence of everyone we meet, if we receive the sacraments on a regular basis, listen to or read the scriptures, and live in God’s presence like Peter, James, and John, we will also have our own mountaintop experience. Through the eyes of our faith, we will be able to have a preview of what God has in store for us in this world and in the life that will never end.