We Never Expected the Transfiguration

Francesco Zuccarelli, “Landscape with the Transfiguration of Christ”This story is inspired by Luke 9:28–36, the Transfiguration of Jesus.

Jesus casually invited three of us on a hike one warm, sunny day. I think Peter, James, and I are probably his closest buddies. Can you imagine what it felt like to be Jesus’ best friend?

The hike turned out to be a steep one, but we were happy to go along. Wherever Jesus was headed, we were willing to follow.

But we never expected the Transfiguration. When I got up that morning, I never expected to be seeing Moses that afternoon. I was stunned.

What did it feel like to see Elijah talking to Jesus about Jesus’ exodus? Exodus? Why did he use that word?

It would take me a long time to process that unexpected encounter.

And Jesus didn’t want us chattering about this experience, so Peter, James, and I would whisper about it occasionally.

“Remember his clothes? They were so white it was blinding.”

“What did it mean that God spoke from a cloud?”

“Did you feel the ground shake, or did I imagine that?”

“I wonder what they were talking about. I couldn’t make out the words.”

“I think there was some connection between that mountain and Mount Horeb.”

After the Resurrection, we would tell the story of the Transfiguration again and again. And I am sure that others benefit from this retelling. That’s how it is when you have an unexpected encounter with God; it must be remembered and shared for the benefit of others.

Continue reflecting on the Transfiguration of Jesus with Arts & Faith: Lent.

Image: Francesco Zuccarelli, “Landscape with the Transfiguration of Christ.” 

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Loretta Pehanich is a Catholic freelance writer and the author of 2022: A Book of Grace-Filled Days, Women in Conversation: Stand Up!, and Fleeting Moments: Praying When You Are Too Busy. A spiritual director since 2012, Loretta is trained in giving the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Her involvement in ministry and parish life includes 20 years in small faith-sharing groups and Christian Life Community. Loretta gives retreats and presentations on prayer and women’s spirituality and is commissioned as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist. She and her husband Steve have four children and 10 grandchildren.


  1. Really liked this. Gave me more of a sense of how the transfiguration really was. I think about it when I say the 4th Glorius mystery but this gave me better insight

  2. This was an excellent way to make this Jesus experience a reality. In my own retelling, I used it, then made myself a 4th person who followed them, unobtrusively, and watched it happen. Then, I put it into the 21st C., pondering all the ways transfiguration happens today: God, present through us, God’s spirit alive and well, with each of us, carrying the Spirit of God to work, to leisure, to a friend’s house, to GoFundMe pages on the internet. God be praised!+


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