Consider these examples: You start learning a language; you can say “that is delicious,” but with your limited vocabulary, you can’t say more about a wonderful meal. Or you have a life-changing experience, but it isn’t until you hear a song that you hear words that express what you felt then. Or someone tells you something wise, but only when something happens later to you do you think —“Oh, that’s what they meant!”
On this second week of Lent, we hear the Transfiguration story. Jesus appears to Peter, James and John in dazzling white robes. A voice proclaims, This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased, hear him. Something is happening to Jesus, but something is also happening to the three apostles. It is a profound something, and it is clear the three apostles did not understand it at the time. Fifty years later, the Gospel writer Matthew is finally able to say clearly what it was: They were experiencing Jesus as the LORD, a Jesus who was “more than” just their beloved friend and Jewish rabbi. Robes white as light, a shining face, a cloud, Moses the giver of the first covenant and Elijah who Jews believed will return at the end of time standing with Jesus — all these details are the “more than” language. It revealed to Matthew’s readers and to us that Jesus was someone with divinity. Experiencing the LORD like this, especially after the resurrection, was the basis for the belief of the early Christian community. They began searching for words to express their belief. Their words were written into Gospels but also into the liturgical prayers, creeds and doctrines of the first four centuries of Christianity.
The point? Our experience of the LORD, our own “transfiguration” times of encounter, ground our own faith. If our faith is to last for a lifetime, we need to stay in touch with times when we experienced Jesus as LORD. We need to keep reflecting on them and how they are like the Gospels we hear. Today recall those kind of faith experiences you have had. All the words in our very wordy Catholicism can’t give us faith unless we ourselves experience the LORD.
— Blog entry by Sister Mary Garascia