In the winter mornings just before sunrise, a beautiful view can be seen from the garden of the then Fulbari Resort Hotel in Pokhara, Nepal. The Machapuchare (from Nepali meaning “fishtail”) mountains, where a part of the Annapurna range of the Himalayas can be seen from the distance, majestic and beautiful. Located in the Indian sub-continent, which is home to nine of the ten highest peaks in the world including Mt. Everest, Nepal is quite an interesting place to visit.
Mountains always provide a breathtaking sight, its depth and hues provide colors that make us gasp in awe and wonder. In the Gospels, whenever Jesus goes up the mountain, something important is going to happen: the Beatitudes, the Transfiguration, and the Ascension. In today’s Gospel,
“… Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray. While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.” (Lk. 9: 28-31)
Later, while Peter was still speaking,
… a cloud came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” (v. 33-35)
The three Apostles, who were asleep and have awakened to witness this event, became frightened when they were enveloped in the cloud. It must have been quite an experience, as they couldn’t explain what was happening. Not only that, seeing Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus became a life-changing experience. In the Old Testament, The cloud in the Scriptures is associated with the presence of God, as it is in the account of the Transfiguration. Here the disciples were given a glimpse of Jesus Resurrection. He wanted to show them who he is and his mission. Jesus knew that he is loved by his Father and this made him radiant and dazzling. He knew the voice of God was right, claiming him as His Son.
The disciples kept this event secret. We are told this Gospel early in Lent, though we have the benefit of knowing what is coming, unlike the disciples who have to witness His Passion and Death, did they fully appreciate the Transfiguration.
It is important to obey the command of the Father from the cloud: “Listen to Him!” If, like Abraham, we put our faith in God’s words, one day we too will be delivered and see the bounty of the LORD in the “the land of the living”, as declared in today’s Psalm. We will share in His resurrection, as Paul promises:
“He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself.” (Phil. 3: 21)
Throughout this Lenten season, let us pray that we be inspired even if we don’t have yet a similar Transfiguration experience. Let us believe that in time, perseverance in prayer may bring the experience of the cloud — just like the disciples — God’s majestic presence in our lives.