Transfiguration • Year A

Stephen J. Baker, O.S.A.
Villanova University
Villanova, Pennsylvania

Dn 7:9-10, 13-14
Ps 97:1-2, 5-6, 9
2 Pt 1:16-19
Mt 17:1-9

had the privilege of serving as a teacher and school minister at Monsignor Bonner High School in the late 90s and the early 2000s. One of the highlights of my ministry was to be a team member of our Senior Retreats that took place in Elverson at the Sisters of Divine Providence Retreat Center. It was a time of great expectation. As we rode the school bus out of Drexel Hill toward Elverson, the students wondered: What would this experience be like? What did these three days hold for us? The bus ride was one of anticipation and expectation.

Once we arrived at Elverson, the Retreat began to unfold minute by minute, day by day. Something was happening. They were beginning to experience the power of brotherhood and the power of being a community. As the days progressed, we began to see something spiritually happen in the lives of our Senior students. All the walls of resistance and uncertainty began to break down. New friendships were formed; old relationships were strengthened. There was a sense of peace and comfort and joy. Hearts were being changed and there was an openness to the presence of God. It was an awesome moment to experience.

I think this experience of our Bonner Seniors echoes the experience of Peter, James, and John in the account of the Transfiguration in today’s gospel. Peter, James, and John are invited to enter into an incredible experience – a glimpse into the glory of Jesus after his Resurrection from the dead. Jesus gives his disciples a moment of peace, of hope, of joy – that the Cross was not the end but a means through which Jesus would enter into his glory. The disciples had a glimpse into the glory of the Risen Christ. This glimpse would sustain them in their ministry in the early Church after Jesus’ Ascension to the Father. The disciples of Jesus must have remembered that experience on Mount Tabor. Did they ever return to the Mount physically? We will never know. But they could have relived that experience on Tabor anytime they needed to do so to give them faith and strength in their Mission to carry on the message of the Gospel.

At the closing Mass of the Senior retreat, the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus was the gospel which was proclaimed. The homily instructed the Seniors that this Retreat was like a Transfiguration experience. They experienced a glimpse of the glory of God. In the future they could return to Elverson in their minds and hearts whenever they wanted or needed, to gain strength and peace in their journey of life. Although they might never return to Elverson again in person, they could remember and relive the profound experience of God’s love and concern for them and the support of their peers. The disciples of Jesus must have returned to Tabor in their minds and hearts to be encouraged and strengthened in their faith. The Seniors on the Elverson Retreat could do the same. You and I, as disciples of Jesus, can do the same as we listen to his Word, celebrate His presence in the Eucharist and minister to the people who are in need of God’s loving touch.

May the experience of the Transfiguration of Jesus move our hearts as did Peter, James, and John and the Seniors of Bonner, to experience the glory God both in this life and in the life to come. Amen.