August 6th is a day of many associations. It is, of course, the feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord. In addition to that, we Dominicans are aware that our father, Saint Dominic, died on this date in 1221. But even then the date was associated with the Transfiguration, so we celebrate his feastday on August 8.
On August 6, 1945, the first atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Hiroshima in Japan. And that one bomb brought about the deaths of 140,000 people, either instantaneously or by the slow and tragic death by radiation in the weeks and months to come. In 1978, Pope Paul VI died on this date, to be succeeded by Pope John Paul I who reigned only one month, and was then succeeded by the unforgettable John Paul II who reigned for nearly twenty-seven years.
But back to the Transfiguration. Our Divine Lord knew very well that the sight of him in his sufferings would be a shock to his followers and would seem to indicate his defeat and the destruction of all his plans at the hands of his enemies. So even before his passion and death, he took three of them: Peter, James, and John to the top of a high mountain—probably Mount Tabor in Galilee—where he was transfigured before them into a glorious appearance of majesty and power, flanked by the two great Old Testament figures of Moses and Elijah. The moment was so beautiful, so joyous that it prompted Saint Peter to say, “It is good for us to be here. Let us pitch three tents or sanctuaries: one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah, and let us stay here a while.” But even as he is saying these things that were not at all in conformity with the plan of God, the voice of the Father is heard saying, “This is my Beloved Son; listen to HIM!”
Saint Peter shows himself here and elsewhere as being so very human. At this moment of glory and joy, he exclaims, “It is good for us to be here!” But you notice, he didn’t say anything like that while Jesus was hanging in agony on the cross. Why? Because he wasn’t there. He had denied even knowing Our Lord the night before because of his fear that they might crucify him, too. So he is off somewhere hiding, and weeping over his cowardice and his disloyalty to Jesus.
We find those same traits in ourselves. When all is going well, we say, in effect, “It is good to be here!” But when things go badly and we encounter suffering, we begin to whine and complain and abandon ourselves to discouragement. Let us rather strive to grow to the level of spiritual maturity at which we can say, whether we meet Jesus crowned with brilliance or crowned with thorns, “It is good for us to be here with Our Lord Jesus Christ.” Thank you for seeking God’s truth, God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.