The power of images

And when they raised their eyes they saw no one but only Jesus”

I have spent some moments this week looking at a hundred year old photo. My sister has recently moved house and she was casually looking through a folder of photos she had from our dad, thinking they were all of staff and pupils of various schools where he taught.  Then, among them she found two family photos. One was of my father’s father’s father, my great grandfather, David Jones and the other of his son Lewis Jones.

I was absolutely over the moon, because David Jones has probably consumed more of my time than any other individual on my family tree, especially in finding who his parents were – John and Mary Jones – and where they lived etc. Born in Carmarthenshire, he became one of the first policemen in Cardiff, then trained to be a Welsh Baptist Minister which he remained for the rest of his life, while also later opening a bookshop first in Bridgend then in the new Cardiff Market in the 1890s, and being a father to six. But I had never seen a picture of him, and suddenly there he was. I had felt that I know more about him than almost anyone else on my tree, but did not have a clue what he looked like. Now my eyes were opened.

In the Gospel today at the Transfiguration the eyes of the poor old Apostles were opened and they were given an almighty nudge – a nudge forward from the Almighty – in their ongoing discovery of who Jesus was and is, for them and for us. Not a photo, of course, but a blinding image of a light-filled Jesus, conversing with Moses and Elijah and affirmed by a voice from the clouds. They were to learn that the Person they were getting to know was, to put it mildly, rather more than they could have imagined.

Most of us probably have photos of loved ones around in our homes, especially maybe if they are deceased. A picture somehow has the ability to convey so much of who a person is or was, and to trigger off our memories. Back in the early 80s, when I was at St Cuthbert’s in the Docks – sorry, the Bay –  a little elderly lady to whom I took Communion told me one day that the little fading black and white photo on the mantelpiece of her late husband was her most precious possession. Indeed, the silver frame was almost worn away from her polishing. Let’s take care of our images of those close or important to us. They have the power to transport us, as the Apostles were transported that day on the mountain to the realms of the Almighty.

Fr Matthew