There would be another day -
another hill – and the transfiguration of the face of Christ would be by pain and tears and blood this time. He would not be accompanied by his friends and representatives of his tradition but abandoned by all but his mother and a few of the women following him. His friends and followers, the disciples had largely abandoned him – even denied him. He would not be communing with Moses and Elijah but this innocent one would be flanked by two common thieves, one repentant, soon to be redeemed; the other one stubborn and unrepentant. He would not hear the voice of the Father affirming him as the chosen one. He would rather hear the condemnation of the powerful ones of this world and would cry out in protest at apparently being abandoned by God his father. Ironically, the one called Bar-Abbas, meaning son of the father, had been freed by the crowd while the true Son of the Father was condemned to death. His divinity would not be displayed as on the mountainside but his vulnerable humanity would be fully exposed. His body was to be pierced by nail and sword and thorn; his clothes not dazzlingly white as in other accounts of the transfiguration but rather torn and stained by tears, sweat and blood. His mission as king would be mocked; his very sense of self-identity as son of God would be scorned and ridiculed. His seamless garments would be a cast-off to the winner of the soldiers’ lottery.
The memory of the transfiguration, the dream on the mountain top, the promise of the Scriptures, the support of the Father and of the faithful – these were the realities that sustained him, the dreams that kept his hope and faith alive in the Passion days, the days when the shadow of the cross fell heavily and darkly on his existence. In your own passion days, when trouble and suffering overshadow your life remember the transfiguration and the promise of Christ re-echoed in the second reading in the words of Saint Paul – ‘he will transfigure these wretched bodies of ours into copies of his own glorious body’. ‘So then’, he adds, ‘do not give way but remain faithful in the Lord’.