|Raphael The Transfiguration|
Depending upon the date of Easter, the season of Epiphany can vary in length by several weeks. But however long or short it is, the final Sunday in Epiphany always has the ‘Transfiguration’ as its theme. This year the Gospel reading comes from Mark; in the other two years of the cycle it comes from Matthew and Luke. There is an unusual degree of unity in all three accounts, however. Indeed, the Transfiguration is one of very few episodes in the life of Christ that gets substantial confirmation across different Gospels. In all three accounts, a key connection is revealed to the disciples between Jesus and two highly venerated prophetic figures – Moses and Elijah. It is this revelation that gives the event much of its significance. For the first time, perhaps, they understand the uniqueness of Jesus amongst the multitude of other ‘teachers’ of the law that were a common sight in Palestine.
|Salvador Dali Angel of Light|
There is one point, however, on which the accounts differ slightly. Luke tells us that the disciples resolved not to tell anyone about what happened on the mountain top. Like Mark, but even more emphatically, Matthew is clear that Jesus ordered them “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” From this we may infer that ‘transfiguration’ in the eyes of his followers is at best preparation for what really matters – the transformation of death to life in the Resurrection. The Epistle puts the point effectively. “You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”