By Fr Donald Chambers
The Gospel of Luke (Year C) is an idyllic synodal gift to the Church because Luke crafts Jesus’ ministry as a journey, beginning on the plains of Galilee and journeying upward to Jerusalem with His disciples. Guided by the Holy Spirit, Jesus forms missionary disciples on the journey.
In today’s gospel, there is a transfiguration moment along the journey. Three of the disciples, Peter, James, and John experience a theophany—a mountain-top experience, like Moses on Sinai, of the visible manifestation of God in Jesus.
In this encounter, a voice declares from the cloud, “This [Jesus] is my Son, the Chosen One. Listen to him.” The voice confirms and reassures the disciples that Jesus, without doubt, is truly divine, the Chosen One.
Following a turbulent and challenging start of the journey, the disciples really needed this mountain-top encounter as spiritual and psychological fuel for the remainder of the journey.
Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem is a model for the synodal journey. It consists of challenging, despairing, disheartening, confusing, and perplexing times—moments of desolation.
This journey, however, is punctuated with ‘mountain-top’ encounters or moments of consolation where we encounter God’s intimate presence. On these encounters, we are reminded to listen to Jesus.
For this reason, the synod handbook (Vademecum) says that the synodal journey is the People of God walking together, “listening to the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. . .”
These ‘mountain-top’ encounters bring us to conversion, that is, resisting the temptation to be fixated in our way of thinking and acting (tent building). They also serve to refresh and encourage us to keep moving on together, to Jerusalem where we will experience crucifixion of ‘self,’ resurrection to new life, and an outpouring of the Holy Spirit for mission.
How have you or how has your community been transformed by transfiguration moments?