As spring weather begins to emerge, we notice the prominence and power of the sun. It heats the air, it evaporates water, it brings growth to the desolate landscape. Yet, the other component of the sun is how it can overpower us. Try to look directly at the sun on a nice day (without sunglasses) and it will nearly blind you. Science tells us that staring at the sun for even a few seconds can cause serious eye damage. If our sensitive eyes begin to burn and we look away to avoid discomfort from the sun how much more so does the brightness of God revealed in the Divine Son blind us? As God created the sun, how much brighter is He than what He created (cf. Psalm 84:11). Well, today the Gospel reading, in fact, illustrates to us how God’s glory can literally blind us.
St. Matthew poetically describes that Jesus’ face “shines like the sun and His garments became white as light.” Here, Christ’s dazzling brightness that emanated from His whole body, was produced by an interior shining of His Divinity.
What is interesting about the account of the Transfiguration in Matthew is that it takes place immediately following Jesus’ prediction of His passion and His stating the arduous demands of discipleship (see Mt. 16:21-28). After delivering His disciples difficult and trying news, Jesus then takes His three trusted disciples and illuminates in them a slice of divine splendor that nearly blinds them and puts them in a state of holy fear.
By Jesus’ glorious manifestation in the Transfiguration, He now strengthens his three friends to prepare them for the terrible struggle for which they are about to witness. Therefore, by giving them a foretaste of the glory and heavenly delights, they will be more likely to endure suffering for they will comprehend where the suffering will ultimately lead to – heavenly grandeur.
Think of your own experience. You’ll more likely endure a grueling ordeal if you’ve been given insight that your temporary trial will lead to long-term fulfillment. Suddenly, the job, the workout, and the stress of being a parent doesn’t seem as daunting when you are fixated on the magnificent end game of where that experience will lead you. The same formula applies to our faith as seen in our Gospel today. We may assume that the Transfiguration not only clearly revealed Jesus’ divinity for a moment. He also allowed His glory to shine forth for the encouragement of the key apostles who were present.
Our faith beckons us to place the concept of the Transfiguration into our lives. When the stress and trials of life seem overwhelming, recall how much glory awaits those who endure in the faith. Paul echoed this message: “For I consider that the suffering of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which will be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18 cf. 1 Peter 4:13, 2 Cor. 4:17). So much glory, it may knock us down and momentarily blind us. Yet, this blinding glory will get us through those trying times.