This momentary vision of Christ, in his glory, was given in order to strengthen the three principal Apostles to face the trials to their faith, which the sufferings and crucifixion of their beloved master would bring on them. For the very same reason it is retold to us today, in the early part of Lent, to encourage us to persevere in our Lenten mortification. It reminds us that, very soon, the Easter bells will be ringing out their message of joy once more. If we sharers with Christ in his sufferings, we shall be sharers with him in his glory as St. Paul reminds us.
This is a truth we all too easily forget, namely, that we cannot and do not get to heaven in a limousine. Our time on earth is the chance given us by our heavenly Father to earn an eternal reward. This reward surpasses even the wildest imagination of humans. We could never earn it, but God accepts the little we can do and provides the balance of his infinite mercy. And yet there are many, far too many, who refuse even that little bit that is asked of them, and thus running the risk of not partaking in God’s scheme for their eternal happiness.
And are they any happier during their few years on this earth by acting thus towards the God of mercy? Can they, by ignoring God and their duties towards him, remove all pain, all sorrow, all sufferings, from their daily lives? Death, which means a total separation from all we possessed and cherished in this world, is waiting around the corner for all of us. Who can face it more calmly and confidently – the person who is firmly convinced that it is the gateway to a new life, and who has done his best to earn admission through that gateway, or the person who has acted all his life as if death did not exist and who has done everything to have the gate to the new life shut forever in his face?
Illnesses and troubles and disappointments are the lot of all humankind. They respect neither wealth, not power, nor position. Those who knows their purpose in life, and are striving to reach the goal God’s goodness has planned for them, can and will see in these trials of life the hand of a kind Father who is preparing them for greater things. Their sufferings become more understandable and more bearable because of their attitude to life and its meaning. On the other hand, those who ignore God and try to close the eyes of their mind to the real facts of life have nothing to uphold them or console them in their hours of sorrow and pain.
Christ asked us to follow him, carrying our daily cross, and the end of our journey is not Calvary but resurrection, the entrance to a life of glory with our risen Saviour. The Christian who grasps his cross closely and willingly, knowing its value for his real life, will find it become lighter and often not a burden but a pleasure. The person who tries to shuffle off his cross, and who curses and rebels against him who sent it, will find it doubles its weight and loses all the value it was intended to have for his true welfare.
Let the Transfiguration encourage each one of us today, to do the little God demands of us, so that when we pass out of this life we may be assured of seeing Christ in his glory, ready to welcome us into his everlasting, glorious kingdom.
How do I look at the trials and tribulations that come my way? As a blessing? As a curse?
As a Christian, do I turn to Jesus for help and strength or do I turn to something else?