Why does Our Lord’s appearance change? Why become dazzling white? Well, He is showing us Himself as He is, is He not? If Our Lord is really all dazzling white, then why does He hide Himself? If He is supposed to be the Truth and have no darkness within Him, why does He appear normal? If Peter, James and John can see this and not get burned to a crisp, then why does Our Lord effectively wear a mask?
The answer is simple. We cannot cope with the glory of God. Look at St Peter. His thinking becomes all addled just at the mere sight of this. Even then, we may suppose, this is only the fraction of Jesus’ glory that the Disciples can cope with. It is not Our Lord who has changed – it is the Disciples’ ability to see that has changed. It is the veil over their eyes that is permeated by a gift of the Holy Ghost. The Lord does not change – we do.
This makes sense. Our Lord is eternally begotten of the Father. What we call Time is just another instrument of His good pleasure. His existence is not subject to it, nor does He succumb to its effects save when He wills to be Incarnate. He is without change, but yet fully immerses Himself into a world of change and chaos, reaching out for us to take His hand and be pulled into Eternity with Him through the wounds He receives on the Cross.
This Transfiguration is Mankind being drawn near to God, for God has already drawn near to Man. Likewise, we find the same instances of Transfiguration in our Mass. The sad fact is that most of us don’t see the light, nor do we see the prophets, nor hear the voice of God thundering down from on high. Masses might be more popular if they did.
Yet, the privilege of finding ourselves transfigured is reserved for those whose lives are spent looking for Christ not just in Church, in private devotion and study, but also in their daily lives themselves. We know that the Lord still does work miracles – we often just don’t see them because we don’t allow our eyesight to be purified by the search for Jesus. For Peter, James and John, they are awarded the privilege because of their relationship with the Lord.
This relationship is not just of individuals with Christ, but of individuals with each other, seeing Our Lord’s life in the persons we meet in our everyday lives. The commandments go together: love God, love each other. There are no Christians apart from the Church. There are Christians who think that they are apart from the Church; they may even boast that they are apart from the Church. The reality is that, if they are truly Christian, behind the veil they will be shocked to find themselves within the Church. Likewise, there will be those people who believe themselves to be members of the Church who find, behind the veil, that they are not!
Transfiguration is about reality. We often only perceive what we want to perceive. Transfiguration is a gift of the Holy Ghost for all who genuinely seek Christ, and Who then holds up the window into Heaven to see Him. This will not happen on Mount Tabor, yet for those of us who are faithful, we will recognise this Transfiguration for what it is.
Let us pray to God for this to happen through the Holy Ghost, and work for Christ to ensure that we are ready for it.