In a reflection on the Gospel scene of the transfiguration (Mt. 17:1-9), Bishop Vincenzo Paglia remarks that this passage reflects what occurs in every Eucharistic liturgy. Like Jesus taking the three disciples up the mountain, Jesus also gathers us in the liturgy and takes us to a “high” place. “We need to go up a bit, but not in order to flee or to evade, so that everything remains the same afterwards as before. In the liturgy we look upon a different way to live, to feel, to behave. And while we behold heavenly things, we are drawn and transformed within … (In the liturgy) an event out of the ordinary is presented, far removed from the usual scenarios” and narrow limits of our world.
“We need to go up a bit…” “In the liturgy we look upon a different way to live, to feel, to believe.” In the transfiguration the glory of the Lord is revealed to his disciples but it must be noted that the three men originally taken up the mountain by our Lord are not the same when they come down. The glory they witnesses in the Lord without is a glory that transforms them within.
In a reflection on psalm 33, St. Augustine offers these words, “Let us love beauty, but let it be beauty that appeals to the eye of the heart. Let us love beauty, but let it be worthwhile, praiseworthy loveliness.” Praiseworthy beauty kindles our minds, enlarges our hearts, strengthens our wills and awakens true life and creativity within us.
We do indeed need to “go up a bit.” We need to be taken by our Lord to the high place where we can recognize that there is a different way to live, to feel and to behave. It is easy to remain in this world, in the narrow limits, in the narrow thoughts – in worldly thoughts, worldly perceptions and worldly beauty – but this does not feed the soul and although it may entice for a moment it does not last. In fact it leaves us both a little less and more empty.
We need to go up a bit. Let us love beauty, but let it be beauty that appeals to the eyes of the heart. The three disciples taken by our Lord up the mountain are not the same when they come down. In the glory of our Lord’s transfiguration they, themselves, were transformed. Similarly, when we leave the liturgy (when the eyes of our hearts have been open), we are not the same as when we came in.
It is a truth of the human condition – we need to go up a bit and we need to see and recognize that yes, there is a different way to live, to feel and to behave.