The Transfiguration of Jesus in today’s Gospel[1] is the peak of His public ministry.[2] Ironically, it is the peak of a mountain, Mount Tabor, that this takes place. Mountain tops are places where important moments happen. For example, Moses was given God’s word on a mountain top in Exodus 3:1-6. Elijah discerned the whisper of God’s presence on a mountain top in 1 Kings. 19:8-13. Mountains were places of encounter and revelation.[3] And, indeed, this was going to be an encounter and revelation to the three apostles, Peter, James and John.

Jesus’ “dazzling brightness which emanated from His whole Body was produced by an interior shining of His Divinity.[4] Light is sometimes a cause of joy and usefulness for us, at other times it literally blinds us – witness trying to drive into the light of the sun. But, we are asked to experience the light of Christ in our lives and then radiate it to others. However, of course, we are not asked to do this blindly for we obey the command of the Father “This is my Son; the Beloved; he enjoys my favour. Listen to him.[5] So, we are called to listen in prayer and then to act, to act with God’s grace so that when we go down from the mountain we have something of the love of Jesus to share.

The apostles Peter, James and John experienced the light of Christ, Peter expressing this by saying, “Lord, it is wonderful for us to be here, if you wish I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.[6] We all like to hold on to the moments of joy…we can even lose some of these by thinking of the time that they will inevitably come to an end. Peter does not want to “come down from the mountain[7] and suggests “I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (It is interesting though that he does not suggest making one for himself, James, and John).

Peter’s idea to build some tents – or ‘booths’ “refer to the Feast of Booths, a post-harvest celebration. During the multi-day festival, people lived in temporary shelters around Jerusalem. In the centuries before the birth of Jesus, the festival took on Messianic overtones.[8]

The Transfiguration is another moment when the Trinity is revealed. “The Father in the voice; the Son in the man; the Spirit in the shining cloud.[9] It is a time to recall our Baptism, we who were baptized “In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Our first beginnings…and now we can keep our sights on the top of the mountain, when we will experience for ourselves the glory of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Now that is worth thinking about!

So do not be afraid to climb up the mountain - nor afraid to come down again!

Sr. Rosaleen Shaw OP

[1] Matt. 17-1-9



[4] Ibid.

[5] Matt. 17-5

[6] Matt.17:4

[7] Matt. 17:9


[9] Byzantine Liturgy, Feast of the Transfiguration, Kontakion. CCC#555

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