The whole of the Christian life stands between two mountains—Calvary and Tabor. The mount of Calvary where the Lord gave His life on the Cross recalls suffering and death. Mount Tabor, the traditional site of the Transfiguration, offers a glimpse of Christ’s glory—of Heaven before the Cross.
Today’s Gospel of the Transfiguration marks a culmination of the Lord’s public ministry. Christ’s Transfiguration displays who He is. The dazzling garments and the bright light manifest the Lord’s divinity. He is indeed the beloved Son of God. The Transfiguration provides an anticipation of Easter glory. Knowing the apostles will soon face His passion and death, He brings them to Tabor. Mount Tabor anticipates the joy, glory, and clarity of the Risen Christ.
The Mount of Calvary, on the other hand, is the place of suffering. No Christian life can escape Calvary. On this mountain we recall the sufferings that nobody else even knows. We recall the suffering for which the world has no answer. So how happy we are to have Tabor. Before the agony of His death, Christ gave His closest apostles a glimpse of the glory of Easter. On Tabor, He revealed His identity.
The Transfiguration strengthens the apostles’ faith before the struggle of Calvary that awaits. The dazzling garments and the bright light of Tabor give clarity. While Calvary might obscure and suffering might confuse us, the truth is Jesus is Lord. Tabor tells us He will rise from the dead. Jesus of Nazareth is in fact the God of Heaven taken on a human face. He is risen from the dead and alive in His Church and able to transform your life today.
Jesus selects Peter, James, and John from among the apostles to contemplate His face on Tabor. They leave their ordinary daily lives to travel up the mountain and get a glimpse of the transfigured Christ. To look upon the face of Christ is the task of every Christian believer. Like Peter, James, and John we too go up the mountain and look upon His face. The one who helps us to contemplate Him best is Mary. With her loving gaze, our Lady looks upon Him and knows His true identity. She exemplifies Christian contemplation. With Mary, we live the Transfiguration and contemplate Jesus in His glory.
At Saint John’s Seminary we prepare priests to be men of Calvary and Tabor. The future priests of New England and beyond stand ready to accompany people through life’s joys and sorrows. The Catholic priests of tomorrow will remind people that Calvary can never claim the last word. The men of St. John’s will remind the world of the truth of Mount Tabor: the glory of the transfigured Christ overcomes every suffering.
Priests need to live on Tabor. They need to contemplate the face of Christ with Mary. The men of Saint John’s live that loving communion with the Lord each day. In their daily Eucharistic adoration, the men of this house contemplate the face of Christ. They find in Him the God who calls them to Himself, to be His priest and His friend.
We remain grateful for your prayers and support for the important task of forming priests to be men of Calvary and of Tabor. And with Mary to contemplate the face of the Risen Christ.