Readings: Dan 7:9-10, 14-14; 2 Pt 1:16-19; Mt 17:1-9
Transfigured, shone like the sun, Moses and Alijah appeared, listen to him and raised from the dead are some of the key phrases in the gospel of this Sunday. This Sunday we celebrate the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, a feast that originates from the 5th century and entered the universal calendar in the 15th century. The Transfiguration is a central mystery of Christ’s life.. The Transfiguration recalls the old covenant of Sinai and looks forward to the New Covenant. It confirms Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah, but also reveals that the Messiah saves us through the exodus of the Cross. It looks back to Jesus’ Baptism and looks forward to Jesus’ Resurrection. It is a manifestation of the glory that the Son received eternally from the Father, but also looks forward to the glory he will receive through his Passion, Death and Resurrection, and is a foretaste of the glory of his second coming. It unveils the hidden glory of the Son in his first coming and looks forward to the glory we will receive from the Father, through the Son and in the Holy Spirit.
The Transfiguration is also a confrontation with evil. The event prefigures Jesus’ resurrection: “his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.” (Mt 17:2) Beautiful, but what we sometimes miss is that, in order to arrive at that goal, Jesus had to first confront a great evil - everything that would happen when he faced the authorities in Jerusalem. Moses and Elijah came to Jesus to strengthen him. Moses had faced the horrible evil of slavery, the reduction of the Israelites to objects who could be used at the pleasure of the Pharaoh. Elijah confronted the Israelites themselves when they began to worship the pagan gods of temple prostitution and child sacrifice. In 2015, I had the opportunity to celebrate Mass with a group of my parishioners at the Church the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor during our pilgrimage. Deacon Romeo who was on pilgrimage with the group gave the homily and after told me how deeply humbled he was to be asked to give the homily at this most sacred place where Our Lord was transfigured before the apostles. In this homily, he said that this was the closest to being in touch with what Peter, James and John experienced on that Mountain. As we hear from the gospel, the apostles had not understood what it all meant until Jesus rose from the tomb. The message of the Transfiguration may be summed up in three points. 1) Just as Moses brought three men up the mountain covered by the glory of God and the cloud (Exodus 24:9-18), Jesus brings three Apostles with him to witness his glory. 2) At the Transfiguration, the voice of the Father said: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him”. We are therefore called upon to listen to what Jesus is saying to us today and always. 3) The Transfiguration gives us a foretaste of Christ’s glorious coming, when he ‘will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body.
Msgr. John S. Mbinda