Sunday Reflection with Fr Terry Tastard - 20 March 2011

Transfiguation -16th century Icon - Karelian Fine Arts Museum

Transfiguation -16th century Icon - Karelian Fine Arts Museum

Eternity is usually hidden from us.  But imagine if the curtain were drawn back and we glimpsed eternity, what would our reaction be?  I would guess that we would feel a real mixture of emotions:  fear, awe, wonder, joy.  In the Transfiguration (Matthew 17.1-9) the three disciples with Jesus show all these emotions, because, when the light starts shining from his face, it is clear to them that the veil has been lifted and they are standing before eternity.  They are overwhelmed and confused.  Peter even starts gabbling about putting up tents.  Seconds later they are on their knees in confusion.

Their fear and confusion is understandable.  From the perspective of this life it is almost impossible to make sense of eternity.  Moreover, eternity shines with the glory of God’s love, and it is that love that they see reflected on the face of Jesus.  I would say that it shone from within him and also shone upon him, for he and the Father share between them perfect love.  Indeed, Jesus is love, and his promise is that those who share his life will be drawn into that love to share it themselves (John 17.21-23).

Peter’s reaction is understandable.  The moment is so special that he wants to stay with it.  He wants, as it were, to capture the moment and to be at home with Jesus, in the company of Moses and Elijah.  But no.  The moment fades, and when they lift their eyes they see only Jesus (Matt. 17.8).  I find this such a moving picture.  They have glimpsed the glory of love and they have wanted to stay with the glory of love.  But instead they find themselves back in everyday life with Jesus.  But to have Jesus with you for the rest of the journey is enough.

This is the reality of our lives too.  Occasionally we are given a special moment when we glimpse something of God’s glory and love.  During Mass we may feel uplifted.  We may have a sense of prayer answered.  In a moment of silence in a holy place we may feel that living presence of God which is beyond words.  These are blessings.  Like Peter we are tempted to pitch camp and stay there.  Instead we have to return to our everyday lives, but when we do so we are not alone.  We lift our eyes, and find that Jesus is there with us.  With him we return to the world, strengthened by what we have been given and live.  In the pressures and demands of everyday life, we have to live the love that we have glimpsed.

Fr Terry is Parish Priest at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Brook Green, west London.   His latest book:  Ronald Knox and English Catholicism is published by Gracewing at £12.99 and is available on Amazon, on ICN's front page. To read Sr Gemma Simmonds' review on ICN see:

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