The Feast of Transfiguration

Today we celebrate the feast of transfiguration. What is this transfiguration? According to the Biblical account one day Jesus climbed a mountain with his inner circle of disciples Peter, James and John. On the mountain, his appearance changed and the disciples saw Jesus having a discussion with Moses and Elijah. We know that during the time of Jesus, these two Old Testament characters were not alive. Then what was the meaning and purpose of these two characters during the New Testament time?

During this time Old Testament here Moses was the symbol of the Law because the Jews believed that the Law of God was given to Moses. The authority of the first five books of the Bible – the Law of God, which is also called the Pentateuch – In Hebrew the books of Baresheeth, Elaishamoth, Waikra, Bamidbar and Duarim were given to Moses.

Then what is the meaning of Elijah? During the time of Jesus Elijah was the symbol of the revelation of God. During this time there was another belief that when innocent people suffer Elijah comes down to redeem them. This was very similar to the belief of the god Sakra in our culture, who is supposed to come to the earth by taking various incarnations to redeem innocent people when they suffer.

The theme of the discussion that Jesus had with these two symbolic characters was the mission that Jesus had to accomplish in Jerusalem. Actually, the main emphasis of the discussion was on the fulfilment of the ministry of Jesus in Jerusalem. While these things were happening the disciples were on the mountain and were sleepy. But this was a very pleasant experience for them. They were so thrilled with this experience and therefore Peter suggested building tenets to live on that mountain.

But Jesus knew that the fulfilment of ministry was not on this mountain but on a different mountain called Golgotha or Skull. Therefore he was not ready to dwell on that experience although it was a very pleasant one.

How can we understand the message of this episode in our present time? What can represent Moses and Elijah? Moses could represent our intelligence, knowledge, education and learning. Elijah may represent our emotions and feelings. We are on this mountain enjoying the presence of Moses and Elijah. But the question is “Are we discussing with them the fulfilment of our ministry somewhere else?”

Like Peter did, we also have the difficulty in accepting this truth. Just as Jesus was transfigured on one mountain and enlightened on a cross we are called to move on from this mountain to find the fulfilment of our ministry out in the world. Here we can’t forget the fact that the cross is in the centre of our ministry. Here the meaning of the cross is the willingness to bear the suffering of other people willingly.

Therefore on this mountain, as we meet Moses and Elijah to have our learning and revelation let’s remember that here we are called to have a transfiguration and the fulfilment of our enlightenment should be out in the world keeping the cross in the centre.

Let’s ask God to give us His grace to comprehend this truth to fulfil His ministry in His world. Amen.