August 6, 2017
The Sundays of Ordinary Time sequence is interrupted today to make room for an important feast of the Lord, the Transfiguration.
It is a special occurrence in the earthly journey of Jesus, Who, broadly speaking, had a very ordinary life and death, much in tune with the human experience of any person. The extraordinary incidents – the miracles, for example – were not so many, were not conclusive. They were not what made His life extraordinary.
Extraordinary was the fact that, behind and within that normal man’s life, the entire mystery of God’s life lay hidden; in that normal man’s life was the reality of God’s life. A life made of small things, all ordinary, all very normal.
There was therefore an aspect of Him that everyone saw; and another that could be grasped only by those who looked with eyes of faith, by those who realized that within that normal life there was something more, something above and beyond.
We find an echo of this mystery in the many questions about Him disseminated in the Gospel: Who is He? Where does He come from? If He’s “only” the carpenter’s son, how can He ever do such things?
Today’s feast rises as a veil on this everyday man, and reveals the depth, the beauty, the brightness of His being God, Son of the Father.
Today, everything about Him becomes visible and accessible: what was already commonly seen (His body, His gaze; His words…), and what usually was not seen, that is, His glory. It is as if, for a moment, His body was unable to hide all His truth, His being in dialogue constantly with the Father, His coming from the Father and His return to Him.
And so, for a moment, we contemplate Him in the fullness of His mystery, we see Him in His being beyond time, in dialogue with the fathers and the prophets of His people.
And so, for a moment, we also contemplate the fullness of our own mystery; because also in us there is something immediately visible, and also something that goes beyond, and that is much beyond; there is a divine seed that dwells there, which normally is hidden under the semblances of life.
When is it revealed?
In Jesus this mystery is fully revealed in the Paschal Mystery: in today’s Gospel there is a strong bond with the Paschal event, and it is not a coincidence that the context where all the evangelists place the occurrence of the Transfiguration is that of the announcements that Jesus begins to make of the terrible passion that awaits Him.
This can have a double meaning: it is an invitation, from the Lord to not fear days of suffering and death, and to keep the mystery of the cross united with that of glory. But not only! Perhaps it also means that it is really and only in the mystery of death on the cross, in the mystery of His loving self-donation that the Transfiguration is possible, because really there the intimate heart of God is revealed, His true being.
It is a paradoxical self-revelation, possible only to the penetrating gaze of the believer.
But, how is this gaze formed in us?
The Father gives the answer: “Listen to Him!” (Mt. 17:5): it is only listening to the Scriptures that makes seeing in truth and depth possible, beyond what seems. And it is only the hearing of the Scriptures that one can see, at the same time, the humanity and the divinity, the eternal and the everyday.
Man, alone, cannot help but divide these two spaces, and be afraid.
Those who listen, and engage in dialogue, see the ultimate truth of all things, what it is the love with which the Father loves the Son: “This is my beloved Son” (Mt. 17:5). And whoever listens sees that in Him also we all are sons and beloved.