The day of Transfiguration is the day we remember that “God in flesh made manifest” is still God. From the beginning, Jesus has been able to do more with his human body than we consider reasonable or could imagine. Exile and Return highlights this in a bit of an unorthodox way. Rather than go up the mountain with Matthew, Mark and Luke, to see the cloud descend and hear glorious words spoken from heaven, we find Jesus in Jerusalem at the peak of one of the highest feast days of the year in Israel.
During the Feast of Tabernacles, a celebration of water and light, Jesus shone in the darkness by fearlessly proclaiming that he, in his flesh, is the light of the world. This unexpected mountaintop experience is paired with perhaps the most famous event in the Old Testament: the day God spoke on a mountain, from within a cloud, in order to give us the Ten Commandments.
These holy words, while surely a revelation of the perfect Law, also demonstrate God’s willingness to speak truth to his people, regardless of how well we might be listening. This is the same giving of light and life which always flows from his mouth, and the reason that, of all the lessons of the Transfiguration, the most important always remains: whenever Jesus speaks, “Listen to him”…
Especially as we descend into the growing darkness of pre-Lent, Jesus’ own lonely path through the havoc of our dust and ashes to their solution: His cross.