CCC 516 Christ’s whole earthly life – his words and deeds, his silences and sufferings, indeed his manner of being and speaking – is Revelation of the Father. Jesus can say: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father”, and the Father can say: “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”1 Because our Lord became man in order to do his Father’s will, even the least characteristics of his mysteries manifest “God’s love. .. among us”.2
CCC 554 From the day Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, the Master “began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things. .. and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”3 Peter scorns this prediction, nor do the others understand it any better than he.4 In this context the mysterious episode of Jesus’ Transfiguration takes place on a high mountain,5 before three witnesses chosen by himself: Peter, James and John. Jesus’ face and clothes become dazzling with light, and Moses and Elijah appear, speaking “of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem”.6 A cloud covers him and a voice from heaven says: “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”7
CCC 556 On the threshold of the public life: the baptism; on the threshold of the Passover: the Transfiguration. Jesus’ baptism proclaimed “the mystery of the first regeneration”, namely, our Baptism; the Transfiguration “is the sacrament of the second regeneration”: our own Resurrection.8 From now on we share in the Lord’s Resurrection through the Spirit who acts in the sacraments of the Body of Christ. The Transfiguration gives us a foretaste of Christ’s glorious coming, when he “will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body.”9 But it also recalls that “it is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God”:10
Peter did not yet understand this when he wanted to remain with Christ on the mountain. It has been reserved for you, Peter, but for after death. For now, Jesus says: “Go down to toil on earth, to serve on earth, to be scorned and crucified on earth. Life goes down to be killed; Bread goes down to suffer hunger; the Way goes down to be exhausted on his journey; the Spring goes down to suffer thirst; and you refuse to suffer?”11
CCC 557 “When the days drew near for him to be taken up [Jesus] set his face to go to Jerusalem.”12 By this decision he indicated that he was going up to Jerusalem prepared to die there. Three times he had announced his Passion and Resurrection; now, heading toward Jerusalem, Jesus says: “It cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.”13
CCC 659 “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.”14 Christ’s body was glorified at the moment of his Resurrection, as proved by the new and supernatural properties it subsequently and permanently enjoys.15 But during the forty days when he eats and drinks familiarly with his disciples and teaches them about the kingdom, his glory remains veiled under the appearance of ordinary humanity.16 Jesus’ final apparition ends with the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory, symbolized by the cloud and by heaven, where he is seated from that time forward at God’s right hand.17 Only in a wholly exceptional and unique way would Jesus show himself to Paul “as to one untimely born”, in a last apparition that established him as an apostle.18
CCC 697 Cloud and light. These two images occur together in the manifestations of the Holy Spirit. In the theophanies of the Old Testament, the cloud, now obscure, now luminous, reveals the living and saving God, while veiling the transcendence of his glory – with Moses on Mount Sinai,19 at the tent of meeting,20 and during the wandering in the desert,21 and with Solomon at the dedication of the Temple.22 In the Holy Spirit, Christ fulfills these figures. The Spirit comes upon the Virgin Mary and “overshadows” her, so that she might conceive and give birth to Jesus.23 On the mountain of Transfiguration, the Spirit in the “cloud came and overshadowed” Jesus, Moses and Elijah, Peter, James and John, and “a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!’”24 Finally, the cloud took Jesus out of the sight of the disciples on the day of his ascension and will reveal him as Son of man in glory on the day of his final coming.25
CCC 1151 Signs taken up by Christ. In his preaching the Lord Jesus often makes use of the signs of creation to make known the mysteries of the Kingdom of God.26 He performs healings and illustrates his preaching with physical signs or symbolic gestures.27 He gives new meaning to the deeds and signs of the Old Covenant, above all to the Exodus and the Passover,28 for he himself is the meaning of all these signs.
CCC 2583 After Elijah had learned mercy during his retreat at the Wadi Cherith, he teaches the widow of Zarephath to believe in The Word of God and confirms her faith by his urgent prayer: God brings the widow’s child back to life.29
The sacrifice on Mount Carmel is a decisive test for the faith of the People of God. In response to Elijah’s plea, “Answer me, O LORD, answer me,” the Lord’s fire consumes the holocaust, at the time of the evening oblation. The Eastern liturgies repeat Elijah’s plea in the Eucharistic epiclesis.
Finally, taking the desert road that leads to the place where the living and true God reveals himself to his people, Elijah, like Moses before him, hides “in a cleft of he rock” until the mysterious presence of God has passed by.30 But only on the mountain of the Transfiguration will Moses and Elijah behold the unveiled face of him whom they sought; “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God [shines] in the face of Christ,” crucified and risen.31
CCC 2600 The Gospel according to St. Luke emphasizes the action of the Holy Spirit and the meaning of prayer in Christ’s ministry. Jesus prays before the decisive moments of his mission: before his Father’s witness to him during his baptism and Transfiguration, and before his own fulfillment of the Father’s plan of love by his Passion.32 He also prays before the decisive moments involving the mission of his apostles: at his election and call of the Twelve, before Peter’s confession of him as “the Christ of God,” and again that the faith of the chief of the Apostles may not fail when tempted.33 Jesus’ prayer before the events of salvation that the Father has asked him to fulfill is a humble and trusting commitment of his human will to the loving will of the Father.
1 Jn 14:9; Lk 9:35; cf. Mt 17:5; Mk 9:7, “my beloved Son”.
2 Jn 4:9.
3 Mt 16:21.
4 Cf. Mt 16:22-23; 17:23; Lk 9:45.
5 Cf. Mt 17:1-8 and parallels; 2 Pt 1:16-18.
6 Lk 9:31.
7 Lk 9:35.
8 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 45, 4, ad 2.
9 Phil 3:21.
10 Acts 14:22.
11 St. Augustine, Sermo 78, 6: PL 38, 492-493; cf. Lk 9:33.
12 Lk 9:51; cf. Jn 13:1.
13 Lk 13:33; cf. Mk 8:31-33; 9:31-32; 10:32-34.
14 Mk 16:19.
15 Cf Lk 24:31; Jn 20:19, 26.
16 Cf. Acts 1:3; 10:41; Mk 16:12; Lk 24:15; Jn 20:14-15; 21:4.
17 Cf. Acts 1:9; 2:33; 7:56; Lk 9:34-35; 24:51; Ex 13:22; Mk 16:19; Ps 110:1.
18 1 Cor 15:8; cf. 9:1; Gal 1:16.
19 Cf. Ex 24:15-18.
20 Cf. Ex 33:9-10.
21 Cf. Ex 40:36-38; 1 Cor 10:1-2.
22 Cf. 1 Kings 8:10-12.
23 Lk 1:35.
24 Lk 9:34-35.
25 Cf. Acts 1:9; cf. Lk 21:27.
26 Cf. Lk 8:10.
27 Cf. Jn 9:6; Mk 7:33ff.; 8:22ff.
28 Cf. Lk 9:31; 22:7-20.
29 Cf. 1 Kings 17:7-24.
30 Cf. 1 Kings 19:1-14; cf. Ex 33:19-23.
31 2 Cor 4:6; cf. Lk 9:30-35.
32 Cf. Lk 3:21; 9:28; 22:41-44.
33 Cf. Lk 6:12; 9:18-20; 22:32.