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Jesus goes up the mountain with Peter, James and John to pray (Luke 9:28-31). While he prays, the appearance of his face changes and his clothes become as bright as a lightning flash. And he is seen talking with Moses and Elijah, the great heroes of the Jewish community.
The boundary that separates the ordinary, daily, lived world that we inhabit from the world of the divine, of eternity, of spiritual beings, of God – that boundary is momentarily breached. It is like a dividing curtain has been pulled aside and we are given a glimpse into heaven itself.
These two worlds – the earthly finite world and the heavenly eternal world – are always touching, pressed right up against each other. Indeed, there are people crossing over from one to the other every minute, as they die.
The materialistic world view – that we believe in only what we can see and touch, measure and weigh – has become so prominent in the world today. Many people have given up any belief in a spiritual realm, in an afterlife, in God.
Luke tells us that Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but that when they became fully awake, they saw his glory (Luke 9:32). He emphasises this because we all know that when we sleep and dream, anything is possible. The rules of this material world do not apply when we are asleep. Had the disciples been ‘sleepy’ when they saw Jesus transfigure, we could put their story down to them just dreaming. But Luke emphasises this – they were fully awake – all of their critical, rational faculties, all of their empirical senses were fully active when they saw the glory of Jesus revealed.
How wonderful it would be if we were all fully awake so that we too could perceive the eternal that is just here.
Featured image of the apse mosaic of the Transfiguration scene from St. Catherine monastery in Sinai, available here. This is the oldest known image of the transfiguration, dating to AD 565-6.
Visit this website to learn more about this piece of art, as well as other artists’ depictions of the transfiguration: http://tamedcynic.org/the-transfiguration-through-art/