Mount Tabor, the Mount of the Transfiguration was the second in our series of Hills of the Bible. Here is a summary of Canon Alma’s sermon at Sunday Mass:
Jesus has gone to pray on the mountain, taking with him his closest disciples. Just before this , he had been emphasising that he must suffer, and that his followers would share in that suffering. After they left the mountain Jesus was immediately confronted with a demand for healing – an epileptic boy that his parent’s couldn’t help.
So the marvellous, mystical event of the Transfiguration is sandwiched between talk of suffering and the pain of afflicted humanity.
Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus, the two greatest figures of the Old Testament. Moses was the liberator of his enslaved people, and he received the law of the Lord on Mount Sinai. Elijah, greatest of the prophets, was faithful to God at a time when his people were faithless. He suffered persecution and isolation. He battled with the king and queen and their false prophets on Mount Carmel. So Jesus, Moses and Elijah, are all great mountain top men of God who have to battle for God in the world. The two go together because God gets his hands dirty . Law, prophecy and redemption all mean involvement with humanity.
Then there is dazzling light and Jesus is seen shining and changed in appearance – transfigured. I have always imagined this as God shining through Jesus, as there is nothing in the way, unlike with the rest of us. He is the vehicle for God’s light; not the limelight of celebrity which comes from outside.
A voice is heard from the cloud. The cloud being, especially in Moses’ story, a location of God’s presence. The voice calls Jesus his son. Many have seen this as showing the Holy Trinity – the cloud of the Spirit, the voice of the Father and the radiance of the Son.
‘This is my Son, listen to him.’ Listen to him when he talks of suffering and bearing his cross. The conversation between Jesus, Moses and Elijah is centred around Jesus’ departure which was to be accomplished at Jerusalem.
And so here on Mount Tabor, the mountain of Transfiguration, we see the revelation, the glory, the voice, the suffering and the nature of God.