Godtalk: A glimpse of eternity


Vision of Eternity

The Transfiguration was a unique experience in the life of Jesus and the three disciples who witnessed it. Jesus' ''face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as the light". Matt. 17:1-9 

Moses and Elijah also appeared and talked with Jesus. Moses had been dead for about 1,500 years and Elijah for almost 1,000, yet there they were.
A third phenomenon was the overshadowing cloud and the audible voice of God saying: "This is my son, the beloved; he enjoys my favour. Listen to him."

Our Lord was transfigured to strengthen the faith of his apostles. He knew they were going to face the discouraging experience of his crucifixion which would test their faith to the utmost. What does this extraordinary event have to do with our lives? A great deal.

There are times when we get so bogged down in this world that it's easy to think that there is only this life. When that happens, we need something to lift us and remind us that this troubled world is not the total picture of life.

There is another world that is just as real as this one. It is good to have an occasional glimpse of that other world, even if we see it through the eyes of those three apostles. Peter, James and John experienced three things that day that we need to share with them.

First, they saw Jesus in his glory. They never doubted that Jesus was a man, who grew hungry and  tired just as they did. But they also needed to know that he was more than a man. For one brief shining moment they saw Jesus in his eternal glory. They were never to forget it. We too need that experience.

Another thing that the disciples experienced was the nearness of God. We tend  to think that God is far removed from us. We may have no trouble in believing that God was actively involved in the affairs of Abraham and Moses. We can even believe that some day in the distant future we will be with Him. But when it comes to today, God somehow seems to be remote.

Probably Peter, James and John felt the same way. They believed in God the Father, but they weren't too sure of His presence. Then that day on the mountain He spoke to them. They heard His voice, and when they realised how near He was, they fell to the ground in fear.

The third thing the disciples saw was life in its eternal dimension. There with them were two men, both of whom had lived centuries ago. But there they were, both of them very much alive. They had just moved from one world into another and gone right on living. We need a glimpse of that other world.    

Don't we want to live forever? Don't we find that the longer we live, the more we have to live for? We haven't faced all the challenges that life has to offer. We would surely also like to think that the people we love now we can go on loving forever. Relationships and friendships get richer as the years go by. We can't believe that God would bring us to the best moments of life, only to mock us by extinguishing them like the flame of a candle.

Knowing Moses and Elijah are alive after they departed centuries before is good. It gives us a glimpse of life in its eternal dimension. An occasional glimpse of the other world can bring meaning to life in this world.

Like the apostles, we need to have this vision of Jesus to strengthen our faith and to encourage us. We have been loved into existence by God because he wants us, individually, personally, eternally;  which means there is something unique to each one of us and some purpose which no one else can fulfil. 

Peter Knott SJ