Annually on August 6, the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of The Transfiguration of the Lord. In this remarkable event, our Lord chose Peter, James, and John to accompany him up a high mountain. It was just the four of them since the other Apostles remained behind. When they reached the top, Jesus was transfigured, meaning he was revealed in all his glory. As the Gospel of St. Matthew tells us, “his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white.” Then Moses and Elijah appeared and began conversing with him.
The Apostles had never seen Jesus in this form before, and, to use an old adage, they were flabbergasted. In case you’ve never heard this word before, it means “feeling or showing intense shock, surprise, or wonder: utterly astonished.” (Learn more here.) I think that nicely sums up the scene. In fact, Peter was so flabbergasted that he grappled with the right thing to do, even offering to build three dwellings to accommodate the three figures before him. Oh, sweet, impetuous Peter!
As if that weren’t enough, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a majestic voice came forth saying, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” (See Mt 17:1-8) Yet more flabbergasted, Peter, James, and John immediately fell to the ground and lay there in utter fear. Then Jesus came to them, touched them, and said, “Get up, and do not be afraid.” When they looked up, the vision has disappeared and Jesus looked like his usual self again.
The Apostles’ state of flabbergastment (is that a word?) intrigues me. I wonder what I would have done in the same situation and what it would be like to see our Lord in all his glory. I know for sure that I would be overwhelmingly flabbergasted! We may not see our transfigured Lord during our lifetimes but we do see him in all his glory at every holy Mass. There we have the privilege of participating in his holy Sacrifice and of receiving him in his Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. We are privileged to witness the host becoming Christ himself when the priest speaks the words, “TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND EAT OF IT: FOR THIS IS MY BODY WHICH WILL BE GIVEN UP FOR YOU.” After, the wine becomes the Blood of Christ when the priest speaks the words, “TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND DRINK FROM IT: FOR THIS IS THE CHALICE OF MY BLOOD, THE BLOOD OF THE NEW AND ETERNAL COVENANT, WHICH WILL BE POURED OUT FOR YOU AND FOR MANY FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS. DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME.” These are the words Jesus spoke at the Last Supper, the words that instituted the Eucharist as a sacrament, and the words that give us life through his Body and Blood when we receive him in Holy Communion. This astounding moment is called the Transubstantiation, and it should indeed flabbergast us!
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Image: Alexandr Ivanov, Wikimedia Commons