September 14, 2015
There are 40 days between August 6th, the Feast of the Transfiguration, and September 14th, the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. 40 days after Jesus goes up a mountain where he is transfigured in glory, the Church contemplates Jesus going up another mountain where he is transfigured in suffering. Reading the Gospel account of the Transfiguration in its scriptural context helps understand why these two mountains are joined.
We hear in Mark’s Gospel account that the transfiguration takes place after six days (9:2). Six days after what? Six days after Peter rebuked the Lord for saying that he was going to suffer and be raised (Mk 8:31-33). Six days after Jesus tells us that being a disciple means that we must deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him (Mk 8:34).
Jesus brings us up Mount Tabor with Peter, James and John to allow us to hear the voice of the Father in glory calling us his beloved sons and beloved daughters that we might call out to the Father in our suffering. It is tempting to want to stop and build tents in the comfortable places in our lives. But just as Jesus set his face towards Jerusalem to lay down his life into the arms of the Father, we choose to take up our crosses and united to Christ, act like the beloved sons and daughters that we are.
What cross is the Lord inviting you to take up? Whatever it may be, our Mother the Church teaches us in her liturgical prayer that one of the reasons that our Lord was transfigured was so “that the scandal of the Cross might be removed from the hearts of his disciples” (Preface for the Feast of the Transfiguration, Roman Missal). The Transfiguration helps remove the scandal of that cross from our hearts. We can truly exalt the Holy Cross today because it is the path that leads us into the glorified resurrected life, the eternal transfigured life, where we are taken up into the arms of the Father who calls us “My beloved.”