RISE, AND HAVE NO FEAR
“And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is well that we are here; if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah. He was still speaking, when lo, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.’ When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces, and were filled with fear (ἐφοβήθησαν σφόδρα). But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Rise, and have no fear (μὴ φοβεῖσθε).’ And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.” (Mt 17: 1-8)
Christ’s transfiguration in our human body, before human eye-witnesses, fills us with fear. Because in Him, it can be ours. We are called to be “imitators of God, as beloved children” (Eph 5: 1), and on the mountain He shows us our great potential for transfiguration, in His light. But our reaction is fear, because His kind of light is not in the realm of what we understand, taking us out of our “comfort-zone.” So God’s voice, telling us to “listen to Him,” makes us want to fall on our faces and hug the ground, to which we are accustomed.
Today, when those of us on the “new” calendar celebrate our Lord’s Transfiguration, let me hear His reassuring voice, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” He does lead me to strange and uncomfortable places, where ancient prophets speak and crowds of haters cry “Crucify him!” But then I lift up my eyes, as the disciples did on the mountain, and see “no one but Jesus only.” Glory be to Him, and to His, and our, holy transfiguration.