Transfiguration, Alexandr Ivanov, WikiCommons, Public Domain

Now about eight days after these sayings 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. (Lk 9:28-36)

On August 6, the Catholic Church celebrates The Transfiguration of Our Lord, the moment when Jesus appeared in all his glory to Peter, John, and James. I’ve often wondered why he chose those three apostles to witness the magnificent event. Why not Peter’s brother, Andrew? After all, John and James were brothers. Couldn’t he have invited Peter’s brother as well? What would it hurt to have just one more person? For that matter, why didn’t he choose any of the other apostles? There doesn’t seem to be a complete answer in the Scriptures, and so we’re left to speculate on our own. 

When I meditate on the scene, I contemplate the amazing and exclusive gift given to Peter, John, and James. They had the privilege to behold Jesus in all his glory and to get a taste of what it must be like to stand before God in Heaven. Imagine what that must have been like! In fact, Peter is so astounded that this impetuosity gets the best of him. Not knowing what else to say, he suggests building three tents – one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. Since there’s no record of a response from Jesus, I suspect he gently dismissed the idea. The point of the Tabor meeting wasn’t about building altars; it was about allowing three of his closest followers to participate in a special privilege. It makes me feel sad for the other apostles who missed out on the experience. 

The scene also makes me think about the people in my life who have left the Church or refused to accept her in the first place. They are all gone, yet I’m still here. For most of my life, I’ve been the only member of my family who has remained Catholic. It seems as though I see more step away on a regular basis. Why did Our Lord choose me for the privilege of faithfulness to the Church and not them? I experience God’s glory every time I receive the holy Eucharist – why not them? I’m left to wonder and to grieve their absence from the Eucharistic Table and the Church that I’ve dedicated my life to. And so every year I spend The Transfiguration in prayer, fasting, and penance for those who do not share this privilege with me. 

We all have someone in our lives who is missing from our Tabor. Perhaps you, too, would like to spend The Transfiguration in prayer for them. Perhaps, someday, they will share in our privilege.


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