Peter, James, and John were terrified at the Transfiguration, and rightly so. After all, according to the Gospels, it was a pretty scary scene. Their friend, Jesus, was transformed before their eyes, his face shone like the sun and his clothing became dazzlingly white. Two men, Moses and Elijah, both long dead, appeared to them. And to top it all off, God the Father spoke to them from heaven, instructing them to listen to his beloved Son. This left them quite scared, so much so that they fell flat on their faces.
It wasn’t until Jesus came to them with a touch, telling them to “Rise, and have no fear” (Mt 17:7), that they were able to lift their eyes. And when they did, they saw “no one but Jesus only” (Mt 17:8). Jesus, having healed their fright and awe with a touch, was the only one they were able to see.
None of us will ever know exactly what it was like for these apostles to witness the glory of the Transfiguration, but each of us will be faced with moments of fear and awe throughout our lives. When we are faced with these moments, the Lord in the Eucharist offers us a healing touch in his true presence. At Mass or in adoration, Christ is truly present to us. In making ourselves present to him, we give him the opportunity to say to us, as he did to his apostles, “Rise, and have no fear.” And rising from our knees, we pray, we will see Christ alone, knowing that he is the one who offers us that perfect love which casts out fear (1 Jn 4:18).
Image: Peter Paul Rubens, The Transfiguration of Christ.