Yet as I consider the brilliance of the Transfiguration, I know my mother’s sheets could not be nearly as dazzling white as Jesus’ clothing. In the illustration for the Transfiguration found in the St. John’s Bible, Jesus looks almost transparent. We can imagine how blinded and amazed Peter, James, and John must have been to see such a transformation of their familiar Jesus. They were dumbstruck and confounded. The light shining through him in the illustration is so brilliant that all we can see clearly are his eyes.
It is no wonder that the apostles would want to remain there. Peter, never at a loss for words, said, “Let’s make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” Moses represented the Law, and Elijah, the Prophets, so Peter realized this was truly holy ground. And to top it off, a voice from a cloud says, “This is my Son, the Beloved: listen to him!”
The splendor of the Transfiguration appeals to our senses, even while it calls us to become so transparent that God’s radiance shines through us. But how do we become transparent? It is important to note that the illustration also has glowing crosses all over Christ’s figure and spilling over around him to remind us that glory only comes through trials. God calls us to this same transparency and willingness to do His will. And during Lent we strive to answer this call.
The ways to do this are innumerable. If we discard our selfish, prideful ways, might we become more enlightened? If we care for those whom we do not like, love those who irritate or offend us, do the tasks that are burdensome and difficult, walk the extra mile, might light shine more brightly through us? If we spend more time in prayer, might we hear God more clearly speaking to us? In each of our hearts, we know what we need to do.
Just as Peter, James, and John could not keep the brilliance of the Transfiguration, but must descend the mountain and return to their regular lives so must we. However, now we take with us the vision of Jesus to guide us on our way. And so it becomes possible to carry our crosses, however haltingly and slowly we may do so at times.
It is good to remember that Lent is not a program for self-improvement. It’s a time of letting God transform, transfigure us. As Marina McCoy points out, “Lent is a time of intentional cooperation with God’s graces, where God leads and we follow, like a good dance partner.`” May we follow God’s lead during this Lent as we allow him to transform us.