Summary: Suffering love is a kind of beauty that for Von Baltazar gives rise to a subjective experience of rapture: being transported beyond the boundaries of the self.
There was a group of mountain climbers and one guy was on his first high climb. The climb was strenuous but at last they reached the top. Once it was clear that the beginner climber was at the very top, he stood straight up with arms raised and yelled victoriously, "I did it!"
At this point, a dangerously strong gust of wind nearly blew him off the mountain. The more experienced climbers had a good laugh at this, then explained that you never stand straight up at the top of a high mountain with strong wind gusts but rather you drop to your knees. And sometimes climbers crawl during their final approach to the very top.
According to Matthew (17:1-6), the disciples “fell on their faces, and were filled with awe” at the light and glory of Jesus’s incarnate beauty.
Divine beauty, in the words of Karl Barth, includes both "death as well as life, fear as well as joy, what we might call the ugly as well as what we might call the beautiful."
Suffering love is a kind of beauty that for Von Baltazar gives rise to a subjective experience of rapture: being transported beyond the boundaries of the self.
Peter’s exclamation, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! means in Classical Greek, "It is beautiful that we are here!" (Mark 9:5).
Peter experienced that there is a happy ending of the human story for those who seek God. Tolkien described this hope where the violence and misery of the world is
2. How to have a transfiguration and not a disfiguration caused by sin and selfishness—
a. Holiness in the body—In the book Love and Responsibility, written by Karol Wojtyla before he became Saint Pope John Paul II, wrote that chastity is a virtue in need of rehabilitation and explains why by referring to “resentment” arising from an erroneous and distorted sense of values. It is a lack of objectivity of judgment and evaluation, and it has its origin in weakness of will.
So, in order to spare ourselves the effort to obtain this value, we minimize its significance or even see it as in some way as evil, although objectivity requires us to recognize that it is a good.
b. Also, the experience of the beauty of God draws the believer out into community--
e.g. A man testified that he had “lived on the Mount of Transfiguration” for 5 years. Somebody questioned him about that and the dialogue went like this:
“How many souls have you led to Christ during this prolonged intense experience of God?”
The man said, “I don’t know.”
“Have you saved anyone from the pit of despair or the sting of death?”
“I can’t say that I have,” the man replied.
“Well, that’s not the kind of mountain top experience that makes any difference.”
“When we get so high that we can’t reach down to other people, there is something wrong.”
[source: D. Moody].
In contrast, at a Parish Bible Study, who members all have a relative degree of privilege and self-sufficiency challenged themselves trying to imitate Mary who allowed something wildly unexpected and disruptive to captivate her. Like at the transfiguration, she made time to listen, to be in awe, and to wonder about what God might be up to in her life.
Perhaps we should allow ourselves to be overshadowed, overtaken, and transfigured by an opportunity to love selflessly. So, whether it’s welcoming someone far from home, teaching someone to read, asking for forgiveness, reminding someone she’s lovely, or taking a sick neighbor a bowl of soup, let love be born in you in a new way. And I imagine that someone in this weary world will rejoice and say, “Oh! This is just the gift of love I’ve been waiting for.” [source unknown].