Captivity to freedom

March 13, 2022

It had been a troubling week for all the disciples. Eight days before his transfiguration Jesus told them that he would be killed after suffering at the hands of religious authorities, warning them that they too should be willing to lose their lives for his sake. Deny yourselves, he said, and take up your own crosses. They certainly preferred the healings and the feeding of thousands that they had witnessed in the weeks before that. It had appeared that these miracles might culminate in some kind of triumphant victory for their little band of believers. This new talk was upsetting. Crosses, suffering, death: where did that come from? It is not difficult to imagine Peter, James, and John’s trepidation when invited to climb a mountain with Jesus. Is this where he would suffer? Would religious authorities confront them? Instead, they are treated to a dazzling event that leaves them speechless. They did not realize it at the time, but they received a preview of the glory that awaited the Lord after his suffering and death. Luke alone adds a detail that the other evangelists do not: what Jesus, Moses, and Elijah discussed on the mountain. Luke says that they “spoke of his   exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem” (Luke 9:31). We tend to think of the flight of the chosen People from Egypt when we hear that word, but the exodus Jesus would accomplish in Jerusalem was also a journey from captivity to freedom. The Red Sea was now the veil of death and the Promise Land eternal life. Perhaps the three of them discussed how difficult it would be. Perhaps Jesus explained how the sinful condition of humanity was in need of redemption. Perhaps none were surprised when a cloud came over, like the one that went before the Israelites, this time with the voice of God, who in fact had an audience of five when saying, “This is my chosen Son;  listen to him” (9:35). Past, present, and future: all ages are called to listen to the Savior. Paul makes a necessary connection for the Philippians: “(Jesus) will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body” (Philippians 3:21). It is not only our Lord who is transfigured. We pray that we will be transfigured to become more like Christ as we witness to his    redemptive act in us and in our world. Our lives may be difficult and our crosses may be heavy, but we too may be glorified as the Lord was when we make our own journeys up to Jerusalem, commit to an exodus from captivity to sin, and conform our lives to Christ’s mission. Amen. (Casey, Most Reverend Robert G. Pastoral Patterns. World Library Publication, 2022)

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