Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings

DN 7: 9-10, 13-14
2 PT 1: 16-19
MT 17: 1-9

Reflection

In Matthew 17, verses one through nine, Jesus leads Peter, James, and John up onto a mountain. After arriving at the summit, a great transfiguration happens: Jesus becomes bright as the sun and God appears in the form of a glaring cloud that sternly instructs the fearful witnesses to listen to His son, Jesus Christ. The three witnesses experience a plethora of emotions after seeing the power of God and His interconnectedness to His son.

The fascinating part of this passage to me is not the transfiguration but rather Jesus’ request of the disciples as they descend from the mountain. Jesus asks of the disciples, “Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” Now, they may not have fully processed this request at that moment, but I am sure there came a time when they reflected on the wild things they had seen and wished they could tell everybody they knew. I would not be surprised if there was a moment when they thought, “We’re supposed to keep what we just saw a secret? Are you serious?” It is hard enough to keep a friend’s current love interest a secret. Now, imagine trying to keep it a secret when you witness the Son of God turn bright as the sun and then get yelled at by a voluminous cloud that is also the creator of the universe.

Jesus came to earth to save. Although he, time and time again, showcases magnificent moments of God’s glory through healings - curing leprosy, giving sight to the blind, casting out demons, raising the dead from the grave - he ultimately came to pay the price for our sin that nobody else could pay. So, when Jesus tells the witnesses to not tell others of what they saw, he is asking them to do this so that they will focus on the message he preaches and lives and the conquering of death he would achieve, as opposed to his plethora of miracles.         

I find the disciples’ experience in this passage similar to what I experience after attending a retreat. After going on both my Kairos retreat in high school as well as the Search retreat at USD, I was on a spiritual high. I came down from the “mountain” and wanted to tell everybody everything about every moment on the retreat. But for those who did not experience what I did, it would not make sense. Nobody can completely relate to the deeply personal experiences. However, I believe the true takeaway from these retreats is not what happens on the retreat but rather how they call and encourage us to live in response. Magnificent moments may occur on the retreats but the primary lesson learned is to lead, live, and love like Jesus did.

Miracles are fascinating, but Jesus’ love and grace is unfathomable. This is why Jesus asked the disciples to not talk about the things they had seen: so that they would focus on what he came to teach and the love he came to give. I believe that this is as applicable today as it was that day on the mountain.                                   

- Garrett Stollar, ‘18