One of the key visuals in the story of the Transfiguration is the divine light that radiates from Jesus. Matthew says, “His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.” Luke reports, “His clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.” And Mark says, “His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.”
This light seems to signal the beauty and radiance of a world beyond this one, a world rarely seen, and only occasionally glimpsed, amidst the griminess and ordinariness of this world.
Is this beautiful and radiant world ever seen today? Let me share a few stories with you. When I was traveling recently, I met a man who, as a young man, encountered St. Padre Pio, the famous stigmatist. He was privileged to serve his Mass. During the elevation of the host, after the consecration, this man noticed something remarkable: there was a glow around the holy man’s hands. Years later when he heard reports of “auras” he said to himself, “That’s what I saw that day.”
Malcolm Muggeridge, the English journalist and convert to Catholicism, was filming Mother Teresa for a documentary. One day, the electricity was out, and he bemoaned the fact that he had to film her without lights, convinced that the day would be lost. But when the film was developed, he noticed that the scenes were beautifully lit, and it appeared as though the light was coming from her.
And I know this might be a bit of a stretch, but there is scientific speculation that the marks on the shroud of Turin, the holy icon thought by many to be the burial shroud of Christ, were caused by a burst of radiant energy—light energy.
From the time of the earliest disciples, the holy followers of Jesus were pictured with halos above their heads. What is a halo if it is not the divine light breaking into our world today?