The story from the three synoptic gospels (Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-8, and Luke 9:28-36) is familiar enough. Jesus takes his three key disciples, Peter, James, and John, to the top of the mountain. There, he is seen to be emitting dazzlingly bright light and to be speaking with Moses and Elijah. Peter makes an irrelevant suggestion. The disciples are overcome with fear. A cloud appears surrounding Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. A voice speaks from the cloud, as at Jesus' baptism: "This is my beloved son. Hear him!" The cloud lifts and the disciples see Jesus alone. Jesus tells the disciples not to speak of this until after he has risen from the dead. They have little idea what this might mean.
For the disciples, the Transfiguration allows them to later experience Jesus' execution on the cross, knowing that he lays down his life voluntarily. For us, the Transfiguration speaks of the capacity of our humanity to be divinized in union with the humanity of Christ, provided that, as St. Paul writes, "we suffer with him."
Frederica Mathewes-Green writes, "Everybody wants to be transformed, but nobody wants to change." The Transfiguration assures us that we can be transformed, in union with Christ, if we are willing to "change," that is, to die with Christ. This process of dying and rising is what living in Christ is all about. No pain, no gain. That's the news, the bad news and the good news.