“This is my Son, the Beloved, listen to him.”
Monday, 1 March 2021
In this reading, we are presented with a pivotal moment in the life of Jesus: the Transfiguration. It takes place at a time when Jesus may have been feeling quite discouraged and disheartened. Three years of preaching had fallen, in many instances, on deaf ears. Most people were not really open to hearing and responding to the message. Even his closest disciples did not always grasp what he was trying to show them.
There was also a strong sense of impending disaster. Jesus saw the writing on the wall and recognised that his death at the hands of the religious and political authorities was becoming more likely. He was also becoming more and more aware that the living out of his mission of love would involve suffering.
At this difficult moment in his life, he goes up the mountain to pray and spend time with his Father as he frequently did. On this occasion, he has a mystical experience witnessed by three of his closest friends and disciples.
He converses with Moses and Elijah who represent the law and the prophets. He is transfigured or changed so that the light of his divinity is evident and, most significantly, he is affirmed by the Father in words that echo the words heard at the Baptism. “This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.” One wonders what it felt like for Jesus to experience himself at that moment changed – transfigured. Was it perhaps a foretaste of the resurrection? It must have been a profoundly consoling experience.
This experience was a gift that Jesus could draw on to sustain him through the passion that lay ahead of him. Despite the apparent “failure” of his ministry, he is affirmed as the Beloved Son whose words must be listened to. He has the assurance that he is living out his life and mission in the way God desires.