We have Matthew's rendition of the Transfiguration in today's Gospel selection. Matthew does something interesting in how he describes how Jesus is transformed. Matthew says, after they climbed a high mountain (by themselves), Peter, James, John witnessed Jesus be transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white.
Imagine that: a face shining like the sun, clothes being dazzling white. The Greek word that Matthew uses (egastrapon) can be translated not only dazzling white, but "as if lightning bolts were emanating" from him. Think about what lightning does to our eyesight: we are blinded for a moment and all we see are shadows and after-images. Combine that with Jesus' face "shining like the sun" and we are provided with an image that is not only too bright, but also becomes indistinct and otherworldly: all else fades, leaving a marked place. And that after-image from that lightning has burned an image onto our mind's eye.
Perhaps that is the image Matthew is trying to leave with us today in his description The Transfiguration. The concept he is trying to burn into our mind's eye: the brilliance of Jesus' presence, making it the center of all that we see. The after-image from the lightning that stays with us, is other-worldly yet somehow a part of this world, is a way for us to carry Jesus with us through the day, to remember his real presence with us in all the ordinariness of our lives, making those moments extra-ordinary.
Copyright 2009, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.