He handed him over for us all (Rom 8, 32)
Jesus is the fullness of revelation. He transforms into his glorious image the hearers and doers of his word, willing even to endure the cross.
Jesus is transfigured before Peter, James and John on a high mountain that calls to mind Mount Sinai or Horeb. Showing an appearance too are Moses and Elijah. But Jesus remains the center of attention.
He is the one manifested gloriously like in a theophany that is fascinating (“It is good that we are here”) and awesome (“They were so terrified”). The voice from the cloud refers to him; hence, it is to him we have to listen, without disregarding the law and the prophets, since he himself affirms that he has come not to abolish but to fulfill.
And it turns out that, in order for the law and the prophets to be fulfilled, Jesus must go up to Jerusalem to suffer and so enter into his glory. The full truth is a matter not only of the Messiah’s glory, but also of the shame of the cross.
To present the resurrection without death is to reduce it to a half-truth. Little wonder that Jesus charges those who have just caught a glimpse of his glory, without seeing still his passion and death, not to relate the occurrence to anyone until after the Son of Man’s resurrection.
The three disciples are fine with the charge. What leaves them puzzled is the thing about “rising from the dead.” How could it be possible for someone to rise from the dead if he is not even subject to death?
The disciples certainly do not understand the prediction of the paschal mystery. The rock upon which the Church will be built, becomes a stumbling block on hearing the prediction the first time. The Zebedees are not any better; they are given away by their shameless and divisive ambition that is contrary to the earlier teaching, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”
But the Teacher does not quench the smoldering wick. He goes on teaching by word and example that to live gloriously, one must give one’s body up and shed one’s blood ignominiously.
Indeed, Jesus reveals that glorious transformation is only born of love that is self-emptying unto immolation. Rightly does St. Vincent de Paul urge a formator to be transformed himself by emptying himself in order to put on Jesus Christ (FrXI:343).
Lord Jesus, grant that we keep your word and be thus transformed into your image.