Lydia Cristini


Second Sunday of Lent – February 21, 2016
Genesis 15.5-12, 17-18 | Psalm 27 | Philippians 3.17-4.1 | Luke 9.28-36
February 8, 2016

It is pretty safe to say the Transfiguration was a mountaintop experience for the apostles. Peter, John and James literally went up the mountain with Jesus and saw things they could not have imagined: Christ's divine glory revealing itself in blinding light, impossible visitors and the voice of God proclaiming Jesus' true identity.

The Transfiguration happens in the middle of Jesus performing great miracles, but it also happens between two of the times Jesus warns his apostles of his coming betrayal and death.

Moses, Jesus and Elijah 'appeared in glory.' - Luke 9.30-31

'Moses, Jesus and Elijah "appeared in glory."'

Luke 9.30-31

That is where the figurative sense of the mountaintop experience of the Transfiguration comes in. During the terror and horror of Jesus' passion and death, Peter, John and James would have been able to look back at the Transfiguration as a source of hope and evidence that they were not mistaken when they put their trust in Jesus.

In the midst of the darkness of the valley, the memory of Christ's divinity could have been the answer to their doubt and disappointment.

God often works in our own lives in a similar way. We can find ourselves in a dark valley, apparently far from the light of God's glory. This is when we can look back to our own version of the Transfiguration, our own mountaintop experience of Christ's glory, or mercy, or love.

My mountaintop experiences are not as dramatic as the actual Transfiguration. Years ago, God gave me experiences of his love and grace at retreats I attended and when I was volunteering in full-time ministry.

These were times I experienced God's consolations and blessings in a way I have not since. When I have times of doubt or discouragement, these bring me hope and reassurance.

Yet, there are those who go through deserts so dark and desolate, even mountaintop experiences cannot touch them. Mother Teresa may have been one of these people. In the Church's investigation into her life, it became clear Mother Teresa experienced a profound, prolonged dark night of the soul.

She did not receive any spiritual consolation from God for 40 years, save a one-month span in 1958. Her constant love for, and commitment to, Christ were pure acts of the will and self-sacrifice.


Mother Teresa persisted in her love for God even when she felt abandoned by him, even when she doubted his existence. As Carol Zaleski wrote, Mother Teresa converted "her feeling of abandonment by God into an act of abandonment to God."

It appears the reason Mother Teresa continued in faithfulness was not the mountaintop experience of locutions and visions of Christ she had when she was young. Rather, it appears Mother Teresa continued in faithfulness through a sheer act of will.

When we find ourselves in darkness in our own lives, we can look back to our own versions of the Transfiguration for hope and encouragement to persevere. If that is not enough to help us feel better in our faith, we can ask for Blessed Teresa of Calcutta's prayers to persevere in pure love and joy, not needing anything in return.