Translating the Transparent Transcendence of Transformation That Transpires in Transfiguration Pt. 3
About eight days later, Jesus climbed the mountain to pray—taking Peter, John, and James along. While he was in prayer, the appearance of his face changed and his clothes became dazzling white.
Suddenly, they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. They appeared in glory and were speaking of departure—the one Jesus was about to complete in Jerusalem. Meanwhile, Peter and those with him were slumped over in sleep.
When they came to, rubbing their eyes, they saw Jesus in his glory and the two men standing with him. Just as Moses and Elijah were leaving, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, this is a great moment! Let’s build three dwellings: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” Peter blurted this out without thinking.
While he was speaking, a cloud came and enveloped them; and they became deeply aware of God. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son—the Chosen; Listen to him!”
When the sound of the voice died away, they saw Jesus there alone. They were speechless and during those days, they told no one of what they had seen.
Herein lies another reality of our shared spiritual capacity to be transformed: pain is a part of it. As we move into transformation—as we transcend our past—
suffering will transpire.
Franciscan priest Father Richard Rohr asserts that there are only two paths by which we are transformed—great love and great suffering. Rohr says, “Both finally come down to great suffering—because if we love anything greatly, we will eventually suffer for it.” According to Father Rohr, “Jesus is leading the disciples toward the Transfiguration experience. He is preparing them for the cross, and saying, ‘It’s going to come! Be ready. It’s probably the only thing that will transfigure you.’” Suffering transpires—and Jesus will not be the only one transformed. I would submit to you the possibility that one reason we’re provided the strange and specific details of Peter, John, and James sleeping on the mountain of transfiguration is because we will soon see these same disciples sleeping in the Garden of Gethsemane. There, moments before he will be betrayed, Jesus is so burdened by the suffering he carries that Luke writes, “his sweat became like great drops of blood falling on the ground” as he prayed for relief. Peter, John, and James—the same three awakened and confused by the transfiguration on the mountain are now awakened and confused by the suffering in the garden.
Pain is a part of it. Metamorphosis is messy. Transformation can be traumatic.
Yet, Jesus doesn’t try to evade the Garden of Gethsemane or escape the suffering he knows will transpire in Jerusalem. When the light of the transfiguration fades and the cloud lifts, Jesus doesn’t point fingers or assign blame. He sets his eyes on the suffering and walks toward it. We can’t stay on the mountaintop forever. Suffering will transpire. It’s not to be avoided.
It is to be faced, embraced, and absorbed.
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