In the various Gospel accounts of the Transfiguration we read, ‘As he prayed the aspect of Jesus face changed’. Then again, ‘In their presence he was transfigured, his face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as light’ and yet again ‘The desciples saw his glory’. The Magnificat magazine gives the following introduction to the mass for this Feast. It says

Christ’s tabor radiance is a kind of mirror in which we glimpse the glory that God wills to give his friends. The resplendence of the Transfiguration reveals the fullness of life destined to be ours. The transfiguration invites us to configuration. As we peer into the glory that pours from every pore of the transfigured Christ, we cast off everything unworthy of our personal relationship with the infinite, and we take on the luster of the Son of God. Jesus gazes back at us with a luminous look of love that makes us desire to live his transparent beauty- to be luminaries. Silently from Tabor’s splendor the savior begs “Become what you behold.”

In Dominic we see someone who wholeheartedly responded to this invitation of Jesus. We read in the Libellis, “far more impressive and splendid than all Dominic’s miracles were the exceptional integrity of his character and the extraordinary energy of divine zeal which carried him along. These proved beyond doubt that he was a vessel of honour and grace. His face was always radiant with a cheerfulness which bore witness to the good conscience he bore within him. By his cheerfulness he easily won the love of everybody. Without difficulty he found his way into people’s hearts as soon as they saw him.’ One could easily imagine people in Dominic’s company echoing the words of the three disciples on Tabor. “It is good for us to be here, Dominic. In your presence we experience God loving us. We are in touch with God. Your radiance is not of this earth,  grace has transfigured you into Christ. We feel loved and a response in love is awakened in us.” This is the greatest form of preaching, when others encounter God when they spend time in our company, when we reveal the face of God.

The three disciples were given a glimpse of glory and they wanted it to last. They wanted to stay in that awesome place. It is wonderful for us to be here,let us make three tents. That could not be. They could not live in the resurrection, because Jesus had not yet procured that gift for them. The spirit of the Risen Jesus had not yet been given. They saw his glory, the glory that is his as the only son of the Father but they did not know they lengths Jesus would go to so that they, and we, could enter into glory with Him.

Dominic knew better. Fra Angelico depicts Dominic not on the top of a mountain, in transports of delight as he gazed on Jesus in a blaze of glory, no rather, he paints Dominic literally clinging to the Cross. As Dominic hugs the Cross, as if he cannot be torn away from it, we can almost hear him saying “it is good Lord for me to be here. Let me build a tent, let me stay here with you and make this place my home.” Dominic was configured to Christ not by an experience with the transfigured Jesus on Tabor where God’s glory was revealed but by living in the presence of the disfigured Christ on Calvary where God is concealed, as St Thomas said, ‘On the Cross thy God head made no sign to men.’  It is here at the foot of the Cross that Dominic is taught the lesson of love. It is here that the heart of God is laid bare. It is here that the depth of God’s desire for humanity, for us, is revealed. Gazing long and loving on the crucified, Dominic came to resemble his Lord. As he peered into the MERCY that pours from every pour of the disfigured Christ, he became a vessel of that mercy and compassion. It was in this place that his love for souls was born. Here he learned to echo the cry of his beloved Jesus, “Father what will become of sinners”.  May that cry continue to resound in the hearts of those who follow him.