The feast of the transfiguration (Eighteenth Sunday, A)
Today we celebrate the feast of the transfiguration of the Lord, and we are reminded once again to be renewed, to be transformed like Jesus Christ. Jesus was transformed on a mountaintop, he took with him three of his apostles; Peter, James and John and led them up the mountain where he was transformed or transfigured in their presence. They saw his glory, they saw the glory of God and wished to remain in his presence. Moses and Elijah appeared and were talking with Jesus, and Peter said, Rabbi, it is wonderful for us to be here; so, let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah. The three apostles wished to remain in the glory of God; no wonder the Psalmist says that a day in the house of God is better than a thousand elsewhere (Psalm 84:10). God’s presence is amazing, comforting, it is salvation and that is where he calls us to be; in his presence.
The transfiguration of Jesus Christ is a call or an invitation to our own transformation, we must let our faith in Christ Jesus lead us into spiritual transformation. Jesus asked Matha, did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God? (Jn. 11:40). Daniel was a man of faith, he saw the glory of God, he said; As I watched: Thrones were set in place and one of great age took his seat. His robe was white as snow, the hair of his head as pure as the wool. His throne was a blaze of flames, its wheels were a burning fire.
Daniel saw it because he watched, and we too must learn to watch, and to be mindful of the message of the mountaintop experience. On that mountaintop, Moses and Elijah appeared. Moses represents the Law while Elijah represents the prophets. In Jesus is the fullness of the Law and the prophets, and so the Father says, This is my Son; the Beloved; he enjoys my favour. Listen to him. Spiritual transformation therefore comes from listening to the Lord. His word gives us confidence, it makes us bold in the spirit, and in his word is power and authority.
In our second reading this morning, Peter makes us understand the confidence with which they preached the gospel of Jesus Christ. They were very bold in their preaching because they had seen the glory of God, they were not preaching cleverly invented stories but what they had seen. Christianity therefore is not about stories, it is not history, but about the experience of the living God in the here and now.
Martin Luther King Jr. was not there when Jesus was transfigured, but on the 3rd of April, 1968, he delivered a speech that happened to be his last and he titled it, “I’ve been to the mountaintop.” He said, like anybody, I would like to live – a long life; longevity has its place. But I am not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I have looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. So, I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. Martin Luther became fearless because of his experience of the living God, he said; “I’m not fearing any man. My eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” In other word, Martin Luther said that the glory of the Lord has equipped him to face whatever lies in the future. That was exactly what the mountaintop experience meant for the apostles, it prepared them to face the cross. Even when they saw Jesus hanging on the cross, they did not give up completely because they had seen his glory. In our Christian journey, there are so many things that may try to set us back, to weaken our faith in Christ Jesus. But no matter what we see in life, let us like the apostles say; “We had seen his glory.”