Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14; II Pet 1:16-19; Mk 9:2-10
An arrogant astronomer approached a minister at a party. “Pastor, “the astronomer smugly asked, “wouldn’t you agree that all of Christian theology could be summed up in this simple song, ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so’?” “Yes,” the pastor replied, “if you would agree that all of astronomy can be summed up in this song, ‘Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are!'”
Dear friends every year August 6th we celebrate the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord! When the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord falls on a Sunday, its readings supersede those of the Sunday in Ordinary Time. The Transfiguration is the event in which the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples experienced his true, glorious nature as a kind of preview or anticipation of his glory as the risen Lord. It is the only time during his mortal life when Jesus permitted his divine glory to shine through his humanity. “Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves”(Mk 9,5). Peter recalls his experience on that mountain with Jesus after many years. “The appearance of his face changed” (Lk 9, 29). “His face shone like the sun” (Mt 17, 2). He was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them” (Mk 9, 3) “And there appeared to them Elijah along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus” (Mk 9, 4).
What an amazing high point for those disciples to experience. Peter wanted this moment to last forever. He wasn’t really sure what to say or what to do, so he said, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters – one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.” Then they heard the voice of God the Father himself. It must have been an amazing thing, to hear the voice of God the Father. They heard the Father say that Jesus really is his Son, that he was loved, and that they should listen to him. From the cloud came a voice, “this is my beloved son. Listen to him”. But soon that glorious moment came to an end. “Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.” Now they had to go down from the mountain top experience to the valley of suffering and death at Gethsemane and Golgotha.
In our life we too experience peaks and valleys. A peak is something excellent that happens in your life, something great, and something to celebrate and remember. The birth of your child – that is a highpoint in your life. The day you get married – that is a peak. During those moments, it’s easy to be a Christian. “God is good,” you think to yourself. There’s no doubt in your mind that God is blessing you.
But life isn’t one peak after another. There are the valleys too. The troubles of life. Those difficult moments. When you have been diagnosed with cancer – that’s a valley. When a loved one dies – that’s a valley. During those moments, it’s more difficult to be a Christian sometimes. When you’re in the valley, it’s hard to say, “God is good.” Sometimes your faith is shaken. We go through the crisis of faith.
The disciples of Jesus Christ had no idea that they were about to enter a valley – they were about to go through a low-point with Christ. Things with Jesus seemed to be going so well – he had performed miracles – walking on the water, feeding the 5000. He had been surrounded by crowds of people, listening to his parables. It was easy to be a disciple of Jesus at that time. There was no doubt that this was the Son of God, the Savior of the world. The disciples were experiencing one high-point after another with Jesus.
But right around the corner loomed the valley of the shadow of death. The crowds would soon turn against Jesus. He’d be betrayed, and arrested, and tortured, and publicly condemned, and executed in the most shameful way known to man at that time. The valley was right around the corner. The disciples would be filled with fear and doubt that Jesus was the Son of God. Soon, it would be very difficult to be a disciple of Christ. A deep, dark valley was right around the corner, and the disciples had no idea.
And so that is why today, Jesus takes them to the top of a mountain. He lets them experience something amazing – with their own eyes, they catch a glimpse of his glory. Right before the valley, Jesus takes them to a mountain, to a high point, and he does this to strengthen them for the difficult road ahead. Today, it is good for us to go on this journey with those disciples. Some of you may be having now glorious moments and some valley of suffering and pain, doubts and misunderstandings in the family. In those moments of joys and sorrows, listen to Jesus as the voice of the heavenly Father directed the disciples. We will experience the joy of the Resurrection with Jesus if we all learn to live as Jesus has directed us.