I may come off sounding a bit heretical here, but I have an alternative take on today’s first and gospel readings.
The first reading was about God’s test of Abraham. The common teaching is that God wanted to test Abraham’s obedience to him by telling him to sacrifice his son Isaac. I don’t think God needed that proof. He’s God, after all. I think this was some basic training for Abraham–a test for Abraham’s sake to prove to himself that he had the right stuff to be a leader in the Faith. From this test would emerge a powerful spiritual father to many and a spriritual leader to millions.
Just as that was Abraham’s basic training as God’s prophet, Jesus’ transfiguration in today’s gospel is the culmination of his basic training to be the spiritual savior of all who would call themselves Christians for centuries to come. Peter was a witness to Jesus’ physical transformation on the mountain as well as his spiritual commissioning as God on earth. With His eventual passion and death He would transform His earth-bound ministry to one that would be earth transcending.
Last week’s gospel reading had Jesus getting his first bit of basic training for this ministry in the desert for 40 days. In today’s Gospel reading Jesus officially becomes our Divine spiritual leader, with his Father announcing “This is my Son–listen to Him. He and I are One.”
This message survived the cross and would lead generation after generation of Christians out of their spiritual deserts, following their calling to the Divine.