It’s a safe bet that Peter, James and John weren’t expecting a transfiguration when Jesus led them up the mountain alone.
You have to wonder, in fact, if they’d ever even heard such a word before. It has the look-and-feel of a term created after the fact. They (or someone after them) had to invent the expression…in an attempt to describe something that had never been experienced by human beings before.
Perhaps that’s one lesson to take away from the story of the transfiguration proclaimed at Mass on Sunday: Hang around Jesus long enough, and there’s a good chance you’re going to see things you never expected. Things that invite you to look beyond the bounds of reason and logic—so that you can peer into a deeper reality.
I thought about that when I came across an intriguing video yesterday—recounting the origins of the Big Bang theory in the early part of the 20th century. Would it surprise you to learn that its author was a priest, a Belgian Jesuit named Georges Lemaître? You can see and hear the whole fascinating story here:
One of the things I found most interesting in the report had to do with the work of another (and perhaps slightly more renowned) scientist—Albert Einstein.
It turns out that Einstein had trouble believing what his calculations were telling him about the nature of the universe, so he cooked up a bogus component (the cosmological constant) to explain away the inconsistencies; in effect, leaving it to Father Lemaître to propose the elegant solution (an expanding universe) that has since become widely accepted as the standard in the field of astrophysics.
Kinda makes you wonder if perhaps it was Father Lemaître’s faith—and his relationship with Christ—that made it possible for him to go where Einstein did not dare to go.
After all, as a priest Father Lemaître would have been well familiar with inexplicable concepts like transfiguration…not to mention, mind-bending truths like transubstantiation.
When you run with Christ (as Father Lemaître did), it might well be that you are inevitably drawn into a expanding universe. Sooner or later, you’re invited into a cosmos nearly as infinite as God’s own being.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy One.