…Moses asked, “Now show me your glory.” Yet the Lord responded, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” (Exodus 33:18,20). How did the apostles survive the Transfiguration? If we choose to house the Trinity within our heart, that very glory requested by Moses, then what happens to us when we examine the sin that has corrupted our hearts? Jesus proclaimed not only to do the will of the One who sent Him, but even said He and the Father were one. Grasping the mystery that Jesus is fully human while choosing at times to dispossess His full divinity, is enough of a headache for contemplatives like myself. Furthermore, if Christ lit up that mountain during His Transfiguration, how did the apostles survive for Pete’s sake (literally!)? During His short thirty-three years, Christ not only revealed the Father to the curious by believing Him, He transfigured before selected apostles displaying that same glory asked for by Moses. In a single, dazzling moment, Jesus also unites for us the Old and New Testaments allowing Moses and Elijah representing the Law and the Prophets also a role in this current reign of grace and peace. Although Moses is silent, surely he mumbled, “Oh sure show Peter, James, and John your glory but not me…” But seriously, how did the apostles survive? Is there a difference between The Father’s glory and His only begotten? But… are not the Father and the Son one – or is there something protecting these apostles from sure death? Contemplation is fun…no?
Although intrigued, I am not swayed by my apparent confusion; for I know this same light that flashed before these apostles will also light Heaven. I know it is the light of pure love and indestructible life fueling the joy of eternity. It is also the brilliant light of forgiveness that will one day rejoin body and soul by their friendship in Christ into sinless perfection before the Father. Since Christ came to save not judge, the three son-burned apostles were spared in this saving light of forgiveness that wrapped their devotion and trust while they stood in awe (- regardless of Peter’s babbling). Witnessing this mysterious and spectacular event infused within them the courageous seeds of Christianity. It also convinced the apostles there can only be one mediator to safely bring them into the Father’s light. I also believe that if we choose to accept the light of Christ into our hearts, we find new reason to confess sins against the Trinity we to house within. It is the very image of God, placed in all people, that craves this light like a black hole craving gravity. If Christ’s light of forgiveness is believed to be real, beyond some symbolic gesture for self-improvement, then repentance brings sin to a believer’s heart for discernment and judgment so behaviors not glorifying God are killed by the glory gifted within. Baptism becomes more than some figurative rite of passage, but a mysterious and real death and birth whether we understand it or not. I believe it is this very process of pruning that makes sense of our free will’s role to partake in a salvific process chosen by our trust in a merciful God. We cannot save ourselves…but we can surely can opt to be rescued through our actions. We must become less so Christ’s glory is magnified within us. We are not here to judge…let me repeat that…we are not here to judge! We are here as lamps, learning to grow in self-detachment of behaviors within ourselves that don’t glorify God. We journey not towards a sense of apathy, but indifference to distractions that once held our gaze instead of the dazzling Transfiguration that holds our joy. If Christ fulfills all then what remnant of symbolism can be left for us to hold? The mysteries of fasting, prayer, charity, proclamation of God’s word, communion, and intercession have profound realities far beyond reason and vision. Remember Jesus is not a simple bridge arching over a valley of unforgiveness – He is fill. Truly we can be of good cheer because the One who shines for and within us has overcome, overwhelmed, and overjoyed the fear that once bound man’s mortality.