Fr Paul reads the Gospel from Luke (9: 28-36) in which Jesus takes Peter, John and James up onto a mountain to pray and there they witness his appearance transform.Fr Paul says this account of the Transfiguration of the Lord can sound embarrassingly magical. Jesus goes up onto a mountain and his face and clothes become dazzlingly white. Prophets appear and talk to him. And then it is all over and Jesus tells his disciples to say absolutely nothing. There is simply no reason for all this to have happened and, in particular, there is no reason to put it into a Gospel, like Luke has in the Gospel we read today – the Gospel writer gets nothing out of it, it is simply there. Yet, Fr Paul says, this is the strength of the Transfiguration. There is no reason for anyone to have invented it. It is not central to the Christian case. It is not used to win arguments. There is only one reason to put it into the Gospel, and that is because it happened. It is one of those cases of the Gospel writers writing things down without knowing exactly why they were important, and it is their very curiosity with this event that makes it so convincing. Why, then, did it happen? It happened so that we could see and understand that Jesus is at once one of the prophets and that he is the one prophesied by them; that he is God, and that he lives for all eternity in a dazzling and unapproachable light. Fr Paul says, he thinks the true miracle of the Transfiguration is not the shining face or the white garments, but the fact that for the rest of the time on earth Jesus hid his glory so well.
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