Sunday 5 March 2023
Matt 17:1-9

“While Peter was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!’”
(Matt 17:5)

Jesus calls Peter, James and John to come with Him to the mountain summit, on their own, after Peter’s proclamation of faith in Caesarea Philippi: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” (Matt 16:16). Right after this event, Jesus begins to clarify matters, explaining the type of Messiah that He is. The word ‘Christ’, in fact, is of Greek origin and means ‘anointed’ (by the Holy Spirit), corresponding with the Hebrew word “mashiach” (giving us the word Messiah). In reality, after the ‘lovely’ proclamation of faith, Peter is deaf to the announcement of the suffering and death of his Christ: “… this will never happen to you”! And it is in this context of ‘pre-announcement’ of His death on the Cross, and Jesus’ laying out the conditions for those who want to follow Him, the Master climbs a mountain with His three chosen disciples and transfigures. Literally, this involves a metamorphisis, a radical change in appearance in the presence of the chosen three along with Moses and Elijah, two important personalities from the Old Testament. The first represents law, and the second prophecy. Both speak with Jesus. Then, while Peter suggests erecting three tents, we arrive at the apex, or most important moment, in this event: the cloud of the glory of the Lord envelops the mountain summit, just like it had done on Mount Sinai. The divine voice which is heard reconnects us to Jesus’ baptism, telling us to “listen to Him”! In Deut 18:15, it is written that “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me…You must listen to him”. Jesus is the new Moses that fulfils the Law. Israel’s Messiah, He has opened the way of salvation, becoming obedient to the Father. It isn’t enough to recognise that Jesus is the Messiah! We need to welcome, accept and live his Messianic nature. This is not triumphant in a worldly sense (as Peter would have liked!), but comprehends suffering and rejection, knowing that the final word belongs to the Risen One and not to death. This is the message of the Transfiguration.

Fr. Giuseppe