We are told that Jesus didn’t look anything special, he wasn’t a handsome man, and his appearance wasn’t particularly striking, He looked just like any other guy. He was a Jew who would have had a travel worn complexion having spent most of his life out in the sun, possibly a straggly long beard. In fact the only description we have of Jesus is in the book of Isaiah 53:2
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.”
But that was only His physical form. The three close disciples of Jesus have a very privileged place in today’s gospel, they get a glimpse of the true awesome reality of the God man! They see Jesus transfigured before their eyes. His divine form was made visible and the beauty of that form was breath taking.
”his face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as the light”
We are made in Gods image and likeness and our duty is to let Jesus transfigure us, this involves letting go of our own agenda’s and letting Him take control. We have to listen to God in prayer, we have to learn to recognise His voice and the promptings of the Holy Spirit. A great example of this can be found in the story of Samuel and Eli, when the Lord called “Samuel, Samuel” and Samuel went running to Eli because he didn’t recognise the voice of God. It was only after Eli’s instruction that Samuel replied to the call saying, “Speak Lord your servant is listening” that God gave him His message.
How can we listen to the voice of God? A great way is meditating on scripture. A few years ago we had a retreat at Oscott, 5 days of silent prayer and meditation. During these retreats we are allotted a spiritual director who directs our prayer and tells us which scriptural passages to meditate on. On this particular occasion my director gave me the passage on Jesus calling Peter out of the boat (click here to read the passage)
I must admit that I didn’t want to meditate on this passage I had heard it before and I would rather do something more exciting! But, after a brief argument with my director I agreed to spend the day with this particular passage of scripture. So grumbling I left the office and made my way to the chapel with my Bible. During the retreat the Blessed Sacrament is always exposed on the altar so that we can spend some time with Jesus. Grumbling to myself I went into the chapel and knelt in front of Jesus and prayed “OK Jesus, I don’t want to meditate on this passage but I will, if there is anything you want to say to me then ‘Speak Lord your servant is listening’”. I then sat in one of the seats in the chapel and read the passage slowly to myself.
The Disciples are all in the boat in the middle of the night when they see Jesus walking on the water, coming towards them, they panic thinking it’s a ghost until Peter recognises Jesus, ““Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Then Jesus says “Come”
I’ve read this passage so many times before and I am a little bored by it but dutifully read it again and then close my eyes to picture the scene. I think it’s at this point I nodded off! It’s comfortable and warm in the chapel and the peace lulled me into a doze. In my mind’s eye I am suddenly sitting in the boat with the disciples, who are freaking out a little as Jesus walks across the water towards us, then Peter gets up and walks to the prow of the boat and stands there facing Jesus. Suddenly in the blink of an eye I am now standing exactly where Peter was, balancing on the prow of the boat and Jesus says “Come” to me! Now I can’t swim and the thought of stepping out of the boat onto the moving water frankly terrified me. So I start arguing with Jesus (kind of a one way argument, me doing the talking and Jesus doing the listening) “look Jesus I can’t swim! The water looks deep and there’s no way I’m stepping off the boat! It’s ok for you! You’re God! You can do anything! I’m just Stephen! I can’t just go about walking on water and doing miracles! Why are you asking me to do the impossible, haven’t I done enough already???” This rant of mine goes on for quite some time, and just as I am running out of steam I suddenly wake up with the dream fresh in my mind, and I look at Jesus on the altar and it comes to me that I still don’t trust Jesus enough to let go of my life and put it in His hands.
Through meditating on that piece of scripture I came to an awareness of how far I had yet to go, I was only willing to entrust a little part of myself to God, I didn’t trust Him enough to give Him everything, this is a battle I still have to this day but it was only through that meditation that I really began to understand how deep it was.
So this Transfiguration Sunday I will pray for the courage to put my trust in Jesus so that he may transfigure me into His image and there I will find happiness and peace.