And after six days, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart. And He was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with Him.
And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is well that we are here; if You wish, I will make three booths here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
He was still speaking, when behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with Whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces, and were filled with awe.
But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.
From a sermon by Saint Francis de Sales:
The Apostles saw His face become more dazzling and brilliant than the sun. Indeed, this light and glory was spread even over His clothes to show us that it was so diffusive as to be shared by His very clothes and whatever was about Him. He shows us a spark of eternal glory and a drop of that ocean, of that sea of incomparable felicity, to make us desire it in its entirety. So the good St. Peter, as head of the others, spoke for all and exclaimed in full joy and consolation: “O how good it is for us to be here!” He seems to mean: “I have seen many things, but nothing is so desirable as remaining here.”
The three disciples recognized Moses and Elijah even though they had never seen them before, one having retaken his body, or a body formed of air, and the other being in the same body in which he was carried away in the triumphal chariot (see: 2 Kings 2:11). Both were talking with our Divine Master of the excess which He was about to fulfill in Jerusalem (see: Luke 9:31), the excess which was the death He was about to suffer out of love. Immediately after this conversation, the Apostles heard the voice of the Eternal Father saying: “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him.”
Let me remark first of all that in eternal felicity we will know each other, since in this little spark of it which the Savior gave to His Apostles, He willed that they recognize Moses and Elijah, whom they had never seen. If this is true, O my God, what contentment will we receive in seeing again those whom we have so dearly loved in this life! Yes, we will even know the new Christians who are only now being converted to our holy Faith in the Indies, Japan, and the Antipodes (i.e., the opposite side of the world). The good friendships of this life will continue eternally in the other. We will love each person with a special love, but these particular friendships will not cause partiality because all our affections will draw their strength from the charity of God which, ordering [all our affections], will make us love each of the blessed with that eternal love with which we are loved by the Divine Majesty.
O God! What consolation we will have in these heavenly conversations with each other. There, our good angels will give us greater joy than we can imagine when we recognize them and they speak to us so lovingly of the care they had for our salvation during our mortal life, reminding us of the holy inspirations they gave us, as a sacred milk which they drew from the breast of the Divine Goodness, to attract us to seek the incomparable sweetness we now enjoy.
“Do you remember,” they will say, “the inspiration I gave you at such a time, in reading that book, or in listening to that sermon, or in looking at that image?” For example, St. Mary of Egypt‘s good angel will remind her of the inspiration which converted her to our Lord and which was the foundation of her heavenly destiny. O God! Will not our hearts melt with indescribable delight in hearing these words?
….Suppose that our Lady, St. Mary Magdalene, St. Martha, St. Stephen, and the Apostles were to be seen for the space of a year in Jerusalem, as for a great jubilee. Who among us, I ask you, would wish to remain here? For myself, I think we would embark at once, exposing ourselves to the peril of all the hazards which fall upon travelers, so that we might experience the grace of seeing our glorious Mother and Mistress, St. Mary Magdalene, St. Mary Salome, and the others. After all, pilgrims expose themselves to all these dangers only to go and revere the places where these holy persons have placed their feet. If this is so, my dear souls, what consolation will we receive when, entering Heaven, we will see the blessed face of our Lady, all radiant with the love of God!
And if St. Elizabeth was so carried away with joy and contentment when, on the day of our Lady’s visitation, she heard her intone that divine canticle, the Magnificat (see: Luke 1:46-55), how much more will our hearts and souls thrill with inexplicable joy when we hear this sacred Chantress intone the canticle of eternal love! O what a sweet melody! Without doubt, we will be carried away and experience most loving raptures which, however, will take from us neither the use of reason nor of our faculties. Both will be marvelously strengthened and perfected by this divine meeting with the holy Virgin, to better praise and glorify God, Who has given her and each of us so many graces—among them, that of conversing familiarly with her.
But, you may ask, if it is true as you say, that we will converse with all those in the heavenly Jerusalem, what will we say? Of what shall we speak? What will be the subject of our conversation? ….Surely of the mercies which the Lord has shown us here on earth and by which He has made us capable of entering into the joy of a happiness which alone can satisfy us. I say “alone [can satisfy us]” because in this word “felicity,” every sort of good is comprised. They are, however, but one single good, the joy of God in eternal felicity. It is this unique good which the divine lover in the Song of Songs asked from her Beloved. “Kiss me,” she cries, “O my dear Beloved, with the kiss of Your mouth.” (Song of Songs 1:2) This kiss, as I shall soon exclaim, is nothing other than the happiness of the blessed.
But of what else will we speak in our conversations? Of the death and Passion of our Lord and Master. Ah, do we not learn this in the Transfiguration, in which they spoke of nothing so much as the excess He had to suffer in Jerusalem, excess which was none other, as we have already seen, than His sorrowful death? Oh, if we could comprehend something of the consolation which the blessed have in speaking of this loving death, how our souls also would expand in thinking of it!
Let us pass on, I pray you, and say a few words about the honor and grace that we will have in conversing even with our incarnate Lord. Here, undoubtedly, our felicity will reach an inexpressible and unutterable height. What will we do, dear souls, what will we become, I ask you, when through the Sacred Wound of His side we perceive that most adorable and most lovable Heart of our Master, aflame with love for us—that Heart where we will see each of our names written in letters of love!
“Is it possible, O my dear Savior,” we will say, “that You have loved me so much that You have engraved my name in Your Heart?” It is indeed true. The Prophet, speaking in the the name of our Lord, says to us: “Even if it should happen that a mother forget the child she carried in her womb, I will never forget you, for I have engraved your name in the palms of My hand.” (Isaiah 49:15-16) But Jesus Christ, enlarging on these words, will say: “Even if it were possible for a woman to forget her child, yet I will never forget you, since I bear your name engraved in My Heart.”
Surely, it will be a subject of very great consolation that we should be so dearly loved by our Lord that He always bears us in His Heart. What delight for each of the blessed to see in this most sacred and most adorable Heart the thoughts of peace He had for them and for us, even at the hour of His Passion! Thoughts which not only prepared for us the principal means of our salvation, but also the divine attractions, inspirations, and good movements that this most gentle Savior wished to make use of to draw us to His most pure love!
These visions, this gazing, these particular considerations that we will make on this sacred love by which we have been so dearly, so ardently, loved by our sovereign Master, will inflame our hearts with unparalleled ardor and delight. What ought we not do or suffer in order to enjoy these unutterably pleasing delights! This truth is shown to us in today’s Gospel; for do you not see that Moses and Elijah spoke and conversed very familiarly indeed with our transfigured Lord?
Our felicity will not stop at this, my dear souls. It will pass farther, for we will see face to face and very clearly the Divine Majesty, the essence of God, and the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. In this vision and clear knowledge consists the essence of felicity. There, we will understand and participate in those adorable conversations and divine colloquies which take place between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We shall listen to how melodiously the Son will intone the praises due to His Heavenly Father, and how He will offer to Him on behalf of all people the obedience that He gave to Him all during His earthly life. In exchange, we shall also hear the Eternal Father, in a thunderous but incomparably harmonious voice, pronounce the divine words which the Apostles heard on the day of the Transfiguration: “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.” And the Father and the Son, speaking of the Holy Spirit, will say: “This is Our Spirit, in Whom proceeding One from the Other, We have placed all Our love.”
Not only will there be conversation between the Divine Persons, but also between God and us. And what will this divine conversation be? Oh, what will it be indeed! It will be such as no man may speak. It will be an intimate conversation so secret that no one will understand it except God and the soul with whom it is made. God will say to each of the blessed a word so special that there will be no other like it.
But what will this word be? Oh, it will be the most loving word that one can ever imagine. Think of all the words which can be spoken to melt a heart, and the most affectionate names that can be heard, and then say that these words are meaningless in comparison with the words which God will give to each soul in Heaven above. He will give to each a name (see Revelation 2:17), will say to each a word. Suppose that He will say to you: “You are My beloved, you are the beloved of My Beloved; that is why you will be so dearly loved by Me. You are the chosen one of My Chosen One Who is My Son.” That is nothing, my dear souls, in comparison with the delight which will accompany this word or this holy and sacred name which the Lord will permit the blessed soul to hear.
Then it will be that God will give to the divine lover that kiss she has so ardently desired and asked for…. What divine ecstasies, what loving embraces between the all-sovereign Majesty and this dear lover when God gives her this kiss of peace! It will be so, and not with one lover only, but with each of the citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem….
Let us walk cheerfully and joyously, dear souls, among the difficulties of this passing life; let us embrace with open arms all the mortifications and afflictions that we will meet on our way, since we are sure that these pains will have an end when our life ends, after which there will be only joy, only contentment, only eternal consolation. Amen.