Today’s gospel (LK 9:28-36) tells of an experience that was truly “mind-blowing ” for Peter, James and John, the three apostles that Jesus took with him when he “went up the mountain to pray.” Usually Jesus took those treks alone but on this day he allowed the three to see more deeply what could happen when he was in deep communion with God. He was, the story goes, “transfigured before them…his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white.” If that was not enough of a shock, they also saw Moses and Elijah conversing with him.
One wonders why Jesus chose to expose his friends to this experience. Perhaps they were ready for the next step in their own transformation. It was a scene that they didn’t understand and they didn’t tell anyone about it but they certainly were changed by that day.
Sometimes on a spiritual path we can also have experiences of divine presence that we don’t understand. They may not be as dramatic as that day on the mountain was. It may just be as simple as a felt sense of peace, or an insight that we recognize as not coming from ourselves…yet we are changed. We know something that we did not know before and it gives us motivation to seek a deeper knowing. Sometimes it is strong enough to call the experience a “conversion” or “metanoia” and it leads to serious commitment on our part.
This day is very special to the Sisters of St. Joseph in my community. It is the day on which we professed our vows as religious. Although a peak experience, I would guess that for most of us our “transfiguration” was not instantaneous or sustained. But it was a step. What had begun in different ways for each of us: an organic growing desire from childhood, a comment from a parish priest, a dream or a vision – the notion of religious life came to us (sometimes not so welcome!) and remained. And it is a commitment, just like that of any other vocation in life, that must be nurtured by the ways in which we are called to grow and become the person we were born to be. So today I celebrate my own vocation and the support of all the women who have been example to me of what religious life has been and continues to be for the world. And I pray for a future that will see a flowering of new ways for the transformation of the world.