The Transfiguration of the Lord
31 Jul 2023

Reading I: Dan 7:9-10, 13-14
Psalm: 97:1-2, 5-6, 9
Reading II: 2 Peter 1:16-19
Gospel: Mt 17:1-9


Today’s gospel reading prompted several questions for me.  First of all, how can we relate to the experience of the Transfiguration? I invite you to think of a moment or event when you had a deep and unforgettable experience of God.  This may be hard to put into words. Perhaps this occurred during a retreat or time of deep prayer; a transformative sharing with a very close friend; a special moment during a liturgy, sacrament, or bible reflection; holding a newborn baby or embracing God’s wonder in nature. I remember experiencing a significant message from God in a CTU scripture class when I was going through a tough year of discernment and another profound moment of reconciliation with a colleague in Papua New Guinea, which had seemed impossible.  One of my aunts said that it happened while listening to Christmas carols before midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Whatever may be the situation, we could share Peter’s sentiments during the transfiguration: “Lord, it is good that we are here” (Mt 17:4). It is natural to wish that such experiences could last long time—like Peter, James and John wanting to pitch tents.  Jesus told Mary Magdalene not to cling to him after his resurrection.

Second, how do we carry that moment of God’s touch into ordinary time, such as, when the disciples were coming down from the mountain?  How does the “fruit” from a retreat continue to nourish us afterwards? On the one hand, it can serve as a reminder. The disciples saw Jesus, Moses and Elijah, and realized that Jesus fulfills the Law and the Prophets. Daniel (in the first reading) saw “all peoples, nations, and languages” (7:14) coming to the Son of man. So, we too are invited to see the bigger picture of God’s plan and the movement of the Spirit in both the extraordinary and ordinary times of our life. 

We can also be reminded of truths, such as, reconciliation and forgiveness are possible only through grace, God’s Spirit is stirring during the Eucharist and private and communal prayer, divine beauty is revealed in creation, and God’s life is within the “earthen jars” (2 Cor 4:7) of all women and men. At the same time, these “transfiguration moments” do not only provide memories for the mind, but they provide inspiration for the heart with messages of faith, hope, love, courage, and justice as we meet challenges in our daily lives. Jesus touched the disciples as he did in his healing ministry, and then told them not to be afraid. Drawing upon that experience, Peter later encouraged others to be attentive to these special revelations “as to a lamp shining in a dark place” (2 Peter 1: 19).

I will end with the words of reflection by Michelle Francl-Donway on daily life after a transfiguration moment. “…Jesus reaches for us in the dust and says, get up. Be opened, that you might hear my voice, that you might be my voice.  And above all, do not fear.  Walk with me and be transfigured.  Walk with me and transfigure the world” (Give Us This Day, August 2023, 73).


Roger Schroeder, SVD

Louis J. Luzbetak, SVD Professor of Mission and Culture