It seems that when introducing humans to God in evermore intense encounters, there is always that admonition of “Don’t be afraid.” Human reasoning, and the ability to authentically choose what is good for them, seems to have presented itself to selected humans by God in stages, over the ages, or in the fullness of time.

Here is Matthew’s account of The Transfiguration Moment. Feel it.

The Transfiguration of Jesus.*

1a After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.*

2* b And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.

3* And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him.

4 Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents* here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

5c While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them,* then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

6* When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid.

7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.”

8 And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone.

I am adding the footnotes from the USCCB passage of Matthew because they give a theological explanation of The Transfiguration. It is always a good practice to look at these footnotes from the passages to read what scholars have to say about the text.

[17:18] The account of the transfiguration confirms that Jesus is the Son of God (Mt 17:5) and points to fulfillment of the prediction that he will come in his Father’s glory at the end of the age (Mt 16:27). It has been explained by some as a resurrection appearance retrojected into the time of Jesus’ ministry, but that is not probable since the account lacks many of the usual elements of the resurrection-appearance narratives. It draws upon motifs from the Old Testament and noncanonical Jewish apocalyptic literature that express the presence of the heavenly and the divine, e.g., brilliant light, white garments, and the overshadowing cloud.

* [17:1] These three disciples are also taken apart from the others by Jesus in Gethsemane (Mt 26:37). A high mountain: this has been identified with Tabor or Hermon, but probably no specific mountain was intended by the evangelist or by his Marcan source (Mk 9:2). Its meaning is theological rather than geographical, possibly recalling the revelation to Moses on Mount Sinai (Ex 24:1218) and to Elijah at the same place (1 Kgs 19:818; Horeb = Sinai).

* [17:2] His face shone like the sun: this is a Matthean addition; cf. Dn 10:6. His clothes became white as light: cf. Dn 7:9, where the clothing of God appears “snow bright.” For the white garments of other heavenly beings, see Rev 4:47:919:14.

* [17:3] See note on Mk 9:5.

* [17:4] Three tents: the booths in which the Israelites lived during the feast of Tabernacles (cf. Jn 7:2) were meant to recall their ancestors’ dwelling in booths during the journey from Egypt to the promised land (Lv 23:3942). The same Greek word, skēnē, here translated tents, is used in the LXX for the booths of that feast, and some scholars have suggested that there is an allusion here to that liturgical custom.

* [17:5] Cloud cast a shadow over them: see note on Mk 9:7. This is my beloved Son…listen to him: cf. Mt 3:17. The voice repeats the baptismal proclamation about Jesus, with the addition of the command listen to him. The latter is a reference to Dt 18:15 in which the Israelites are commanded to listen to the prophet like Moses whom God will raise up for them. The command to listen to Jesus is general, but in this context it probably applies particularly to the preceding predictions of his passion and resurrection (Mt 16:21) and of his coming (Mt 16:2728).


One way I look at the whole Transfiguration Moment is another lesson from our great teacher and Magister Noster, Jesus, for humans to discover what it means to be human. For those who have made the jump from the kingdom of earth to the kingdom of heaven (dual citizenship), there is the possibility to not only discover the evolution of consciousness in the physical and mental universes but now to complete our humanity by adding the spiritual universe to our knowledge, love, and service of God.

With this added dimension of reality from the Holy Spirit, I now see The Transfiguration Moment as a TRUTH to add to my WAY, and so have LIFE (or seek an ever-deepening penetration of reality) as consciousness goes from animality to rationality and now to the fullness of what it means to be human.

Nothing is in the Sacred Scriptures by chance, even if humans created all these events. They are there for us to learn about Christ, yes, but also to use these stories and events to help us grow deeper into the ever-expanding Mystery of Faith. This growing deeper is unique to me as Lay Cistercian, as it is to any other Lay Cistercian or person seeking to grow in the grace of Christ (capacitas dei) through daily conversion of mind and heart.

Once again, I anchor all that I meditate and contemplate against the cross, that ultimate sign that what is ultimately real to the world is a fairy tale and that moving deeper into the kingdom of heaven is both collective and individual. I grow as an adopted son (daughter) of the Father both horizontally (from point a to point b) in time and space while in the physical and mental universes (everything has a beginning and an end) where life experiences accumulate, and I add to them with my unique life experiences of trying to prefer nothing to the love of Christ. I also grow deeper in the NOW moment, which is vertical maturity. Horizontal maturity is the race moving inexorably forward in time and space, evolving towards certain points or milestones (e.g., from humanity to spirituality). Here is my Teilhard Map, although I have not located its attribution to date.

The Transfiguration Moment, like the Incarnation Moment, the Baptismal Moment, the Resurrection Moment, and the Ascension Moment, all track forward in both complexity (horizontal and vertical knowledge, love and service) and consciousness (my looking at these Moments and learning how to become more human as an adopted son (daughter) of the Father. I own 82.8 years of this “spine of reality,” so far.


Here are some disjointed ideas (those are the ones I seem to be having these days) about what it means for me to grow in Christ Jesus (capacitas dei) against the Terrifying Power of the Resurrection.

  • If I really know God as God is, I would be scared to the point of frying all my neurons (like I would be during a bombardment of neutron emissions).
  • God allows me to relate to pure energy (pure knowledge, pure love, and pure service) through a transformer, one who is both divine and human, one who can translate the unintelligible to make sense with human similies, stories, events, learning points, and all overshadowed by the Holy Spirit. *John 30:30-31.
  • The Transfiguration Moment is one such event in the Scriptures, put there for me to try to assimilate what is verbal into something mental and something mental into human knowledge, love, and service.
  • This out-of-the-ordinary moment brings our adoption to a deeper level of reality, one where Christ’s Father shows off how it is to be a proud papa, saying. “That’s ma boy!” He also had the same saying at the Baptism of Jesus. Mt 3:17.
  • Jesus shows a glimmer of the divine self in the Transfiguration. With just a brief flash of power, the three Apostles are stunned and fall to the ground in fear at seeing a flash of who Jesus is. Make no mistake; that passage is meant for all of us to “wake up” and realize what reality is now in front of us. It is important for me because, using my Lay Cistercian charisms and practices, I purposefully place myself in the presence of God as much as I can remember.
  • The same Jesus who transfigures Himself to the Apostles does so for me (and you) each day if we convert our wills to God. Ironically, we don’t lose our individuality when we give God the YES of our love and free will. We gain everything plus that of being what we should be as humans on the conscious path to our destiny, Omega.
  • The Father tells Christ’s followers with the power of the Baptismal Moment to listen to Him because He is human like them, submitting to human rituals to show God empties Himself for them. The Father tells Christ’s followers in the Transfiguration Moment, using the same language as before, i.e., to listen to Christ but now because he is both human and God. Jesus knew that, but this is a teaching moment for the Apostles (symbolizing all of us who call upon the name of the Lord to be saved).
  • Omega is each day, beginning anew, starting over,, but this time with Christ with us making all things new.
  • In Lectio Divina, the main focus of Cistercian spirituality, Lay Cistercian adaptation of it, there is horizontal and vertical prayer in my lifetime. The template for this vertical prayer comes from the Trinity as a paradigm of reality. One God, three distinct persons, one is not the other, yet all are one.

I remember having breakfast with a group of parishioners from Good Shepherd and a Jewish person was there. He said, “I could never believe in Catholicism because I believe God is one.” Many years later, in fact, this morning, I am reflecting on the Transfiguration with Christ SHOWING a flash of who he is, with the Holy Spirit there and the Father telling us to follow him (like the Blessed Mother told the attendants to “Do What He Tells You,” at the wedding feast of Cana), and thought about this:

  • God is one in Divine Nature
  • God sends His Divine Son to become human Jesus.
  • Jesus reveals that God is not only one, as fulfilled in the Old Testament, but is deeper than that.
  • Humans could never reason that there were three distinct persons in one God. Who would ever believe that?
  • Jesus reveals to us in Lectio Divina how to use pure energy, pure love, and pure service, not how God uses it, but how we can use it.
  • We must work to grow in grace and conversion of heart each day, to sit next to Jesus on the couch and just listen for His heartbeat.
  • God is our unseen paradigm; we can see Jesus if we know how. We can experience The Transfiguration Moment if we abandon our false selves and take on the power of Christ. Christ is not then; Christ is NOW, in each moment, in each day, in each time we take up the cross and follow in His footsteps. You can tap into the terrifying Power of the Transfiguration NOW if you have Faith. Faith is always free, but the wages of sin are always death.

God is good.


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