If any of the mysteries of the Rosary deserves to be called “luminous,” the Transfiguration of Christ certainly does.
This event, which appears in slightly different forms in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, describes an astonishing experience that Jesus shared with Peter, James, and John.
Some parts of the narrative have perplexed generations of gospel scholars. For example, what is the point of Peter’s apparently senseless remarks about wanting to set up “three dwellings”? Endless pious suggestions and guesses have been made about the meaning of these words. Essentially, however, this narrative reveals Jesus’ deepest identity as the Son of God. The apostles hear a second time the words “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” which God proclaimed at Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan.
The narrative also relates Jesus to Moses and Elijah, two of the greatest figures in the Hebrew Scriptures, making Jesus the fulfillment of everything taught by these two ancient personages, and more. For a brief moment, Peter, James, and John get a glimpse of Jesus in his final glory. One wonders if they ever reflected on this moment in the difficult days following Jesus’ death.
As a mystery of the Rosary, the Transfiguration may be a good reminder to us of Jesus’ divinity and of our own relationship with Judaism through the Hebrew Scriptures or Old Testament. We may find ourselves wanting to learn more about the Judaism from which Christianity emerged. And in difficult times, we can try to remember that Jesus has promised us a share in his glory, a glimpse of which the disciples were privileged to witness firsthand; a glimpse which offers us a foretaste of the transformation we hope one day experience ourselves.
We, too, will be raised from the dead, our bodies changed and glorified. This is God’s plan. The glory that the disciples witnessed points to the glory of God, which he desires to share with all who hear and heed his voice saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to him” (Matthew 17:5).
Adapted from The Rosary Handbook by Mitch Finley, The Word Among Us Press (2017). Available at www.wau.org/books