Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother John,
and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them,
and his clothes became dazzling white,
such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.
Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses,
and they were conversing with Jesus.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Rabbi, it is good that we are here!
Let us make three tents:
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.
Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them;
from the cloud came a voice,
“This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone
but Jesus alone with them.
As they were coming down from the mountain,
he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone,
except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
So they kept the matter to themselves,
questioning what rising from the dead meant.
Today the Church celebrates with great joy the Transfiguration of our Lord. Why did Jesus take Peter, James and John up Mount Tabor and show Himself in glory with Moses and Elijah? Think about what was coming up – the passion, crucifixion and death of Jesus. Jesus wanted to show them there was hope when things looked bad. He wanted them to see that there was new life after death even when things looked bleak.
We too may have mountaintop experiences with our Lord. It might be the birth of your child. It might be a retreat experience. It might be a walk in nature. It might be receiving your first Communion or Reconciliation or some other sacrament. I believe that the Lord reveals Himself to us in glory many times during our lives. He is trying to show us that He is with us always, as He promised before ascending into heaven. He is trying to show us His love always. And Jesus wants us to hold onto hope when things look bad.
We also all have desert experiences when we feel like God is nowhere to be found. St. Ignatius of Loyola says that we should remember these mountaintop experiences, for they will carry us through the desert periods of life. He says the powerful experiences of God are like never-ending fonts of grace that we can return to time and time again.
For example, the first time I received Communion (by accident) I had a mountaintop experience. I felt the presence of Jesus Christ in my heart at that moment so powerfully. I can honestly say that I don’t have that same mountaintop experience every time I receive Communion or celebrate the Holy Mass, but I know deep in my heart that the Lord is present. I recall those powerful experiences when I question what I’m doing or have doubts about God’s presence in my life.
The Transfiguration was not just meant for Peter, James and John, but for you and me as well. Jesus wants to give us hope in the middle of our trials and tribulations.
Mother Theresa went through many years of spiritual dryness. However, she drew upon experiences in her life when she felt God’s presence very strongly. These experiences helped her get through the desert. There are times when we don’t feel God’s presence, but that does not mean that God is not there.
So let us take time today to reflect on our mountaintop experiences. Write them down with as much detail as you can remember. These will be important when your prayer is dry. The Lord loves you and wants you to know that He will be with you until the end of time.
You may say, “I have never had a mountaintop experience.” I encourage you to spend time each day in silence reflecting on your life. Reflect on each day and how the Lord reveals Himself to us. Love is self-revelatory always. When two people fall in love, they reveal their true selves to one another. Jesus does that with us all the time. Do I reveal myself to Him?