The Transfiguration: what happened on Tabor?

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“A glorious victory will come, which will far surpass the terrible defeat of the Cross!”

Newsroom (August 6, 2021 10:52 AM, Gaudium Press) In the episode of the Transfiguration, a detail catches our attention: Jesus took
 only three to an isolated place. What was His 
reason for this? He could have taken the Twelve,
the disciples and the Holy Women to witness
 the event. Afterward, He could have explained
 to them the reason for the Transfiguration, 
making His divine condition clear and irrefutable. However, His choice was limited to these 
three. In doing so, He reveals His love for the 
principle of mediation. God frequently bestows 
graces on a few, intending that they later transmit these supernatural experiences to others. In
 this way, Providence shows how it is necessary 
to confide in the faith of others or to fortify our
selves with the example of those whose faith is
stronger so that our own faith may not waver.

So, what happened on Tabor?

There the Saviour wished to provide an idea of what our happiness will be when we enter Heaven body and soul. Transfiguration is a term created by the Church to express what happened in this episode, similar to what will happen to us when we resurrect. The body will have certain habits and qualities, in consequence of the glory of the soul, and the latter, with the lumen gloriæ, will see God as He is. The Preface for this feast translates this teaching with the peerless voice of the Church: “For He revealed His glory in the presence of chosen witnesses and filled with the greatest splendour that bodily form which He shares with all humanity, that the scandal of the Cross might be removed from the hearts of His disciples and that He might show how in the Body of the whole Church is to be fulfilled what so wonderfully shone forth first in its Head.”  Using admirably precise terminology, this prayer explains how, in fact, Christ did not assume the glorious body on this occasion, but only made one of its characteristics, clarity, visible. As St.Thomas further comments,7 He performed the miracle of the Transfiguration and unveiled His glory while remaining in a mortal body like ours. When He comes at the end of time, this glory will be greater than that of Mount Tabor, where only a pale image of the future splendour appeared.

Eternal Happiness

In addition to showing a reflection of eternal happiness, God also wanted them to understand an accidental aspect of this same happiness: the conviviality with the blessed in Heaven. The presence of Moses and Elijah, representing the Law and the Prophets, was, on the one hand, the pledge that the complete fulfilment of the Law was present, the Law personified, the Prophesied One, the Expectation of the Nations. On the other hand, it was a harbinger of the perpetual relationship in Heaven, with all the Angels and Saints – an intimate, warm relationship filled with ardour and enthusiasm, with none of the monotony that comes from the repetition of things known. Since God is infinite, there will always be new divine facets for individual contemplation and collective commentary, filling all with joy and love, establishing a magnificent eternal dialogue untainted by themes that are old and drained of interest. This is due to the personal primordial light of each soul, according to which each will have a unique and exclusive vision of God, from a perspective or angle that no one else has.

We can never forget struggle and pain, even at the height of consolation or glory

To the many explanations of this manifestation of the Father, we can add a detail that is often overlooked: suffering is always present in this valley of tears. Amid the resplendence of the Transfiguration, it was necessary to pay attention to the words of the Son of God, namely, to depart from there and return to listening to what He yet had to say, the announcement of the Passion, and after that, the struggles and the persecutions that the Church would have to overcome. Everyday life is not lived on Tabor, but on the plains, expelling demons, contending with the Pharisees, in constant toil to spread the Kingdom of God.
The Resurrection lies ahead on the horizon, as was revealed to them on Tabor. Nevertheless, to arrive there, they must be willing to face Pilate’s Praetorium and Calvary and to experience every humiliation the objective of the Divine Master in the Transfiguration was to have His three chosen ones preserve the memory of that majestic scene – above all, of the mystical graces received – like a flash of glory, coming from His divinity and from His Soul, reflected in His Body, so that they could more easily pass through the great ordeal of the Passion that lay ahead.

What is the effect of the Transfiguration on us?

We already believe in the Resurrection of the Lord, the Passion does not perturb us – rather, it is a consolation in our sufferings – and the Church provides us with the precise doctrine on the Kingdom of God. What can it add to our faith?
Just as Our Lord favoured three Apostles with the experience of the Transfiguration, our spiritual life is interspersed with frequent supernatural consolations and a variety of mystical and sensible graces which fortify us, whatever our path toward holiness may be.
Hope is a fundamental virtue since it is a powerful incentive to practise the other virtues; the temptation contrary to it seeks to destroy the entire edifice of our supernatural organism.

Thus, when the devil succeeds in making someone lose hope, he affects all of the virtues, robbing him of the courage to persevere in the good, and he takes hold of the reins of power over this soul. Therefore, keeping sight of the final reward, of the joy stemming from the Resurrection, gives courage in facing the hardships of life – whether of a financial or business nature, or difficulties in relationships and mutual understanding, or of any other type, which often spring from the illusion of finding the supreme Good in creatures and not in the Absolute. Let us advance with confidence along the path that still separates us from celestial happiness in order to finally see our desires for happiness satisfied in the plenitude of Good which only exists in God.

by Msgr. João Scognamiglio Clá Dias, EP

Text adapted from Heralds of the Gospel Magazine, August 2018

Compiled by Gustavo Kralj

 

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