Eternity is usually hidden from us. But imagine if the curtain drew back and we glimpsed eternity, what would our reaction be? I would guess that we would feel a real mixture of emotions: fear, awe, wonder, joy. In the Transfiguration (Mt 17.1-9) the three disciples with Jesus show all these emotions, because, when the light starts shining from his face, it is clear to them that the veil has been lifted and they are standing before eternity. They are overwhelmed and confused. Peter even starts gabbling about putting up tents. Seconds later they are on their knees in confusion.
Their fear and confusion is understandable. From the perspective of this life it is almost impossible to make sense of eternity. How can we make sense of perfection? Eternity is perfect love, perfect peace, perfect fulfilment as we are forgiven and completed by the divine mercy. It is a shining glory, the glory of love. It is this love that they see reflected on the face of Jesus. I would say that it shone from within him and also shone upon him, for he and the Father share between them perfect love. Indeed, Jesus is love, and his promise is that those who share his life will be drawn into that love to share it themselves (John 17.21-23).
Peter’s reaction is understandable. The moment is so special that he wants to stay with it. He wants to capture the moment and to be at home with Jesus, in the company of Moses and Elijah. But no. The moment fades, and they are alone with the Lord. I find this such a moving picture: ‘When they raised their eyes they saw no one, but only Jesus’ (Matt. 17.8). They have glimpsed the glory of love and they have wanted to stay with the glory of love. But instead they find themselves back in everyday life with Jesus. But we might reflect that to have Jesus with you for the rest of the journey is enough in itself. We cannot stay on the mountain top.
This is the reality of our lives too. Occasionally we are given a special moment when we glimpse something of God’s glory and love. During Mass we may feel uplifted. We may have a sense of prayer answered. In a moment of silence in a holy place we may feel that living presence of God which is beyond words. These are blessings. Like Peter we are tempted to pitch camp and stay there. Instead we have to return to our everyday lives, but when we do so we are not alone. We lift our eyes, and find that Jesus is there with us. With him we return to the world, strengthened by what we have been given. The challenge is to live the love