August 6, 2017 Transfiguration of the Lord Fr Jim Miller

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord
August 6, 2017

Reading 1DN 7:9-10, 13-14

Responsorial PsalmPS 97:1-2, 5-6, 9

  1. (1a and 9a) The Lord is king, the Most High over all the earth.

Reading 22 PT 1:16-19

AlleluiaMT 17:5C

  1. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMT 17:1-9

Click here to listen to homily

Homily— August 5 & 6, 2017

  You may have noticed that the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time has been displaced this year by the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.  Every year we hear an account of the Transfiguration on the Second Sunday of Lent.  Then, we hear the same account again on this feast, which occasionally falls on Sunday.

  This is an ancient festival, but it entered the universal calendar only in 1457 in gratitude for a victory over the Turks near Belgrade on this date.  This is also the date of the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945. The contrast between the radiance of the transfigured Christ and the blinding blast of the bomb is hard to ignore.  We pray for peace in a violent world.

  In the first reading from the Prophet Daniel we have the “Ancient One” or literally, the “Ancient of Days,” describes God as beyond time.  God’s enthronement is a sign of victory or power.   When “one like a Son of Man” came on the clouds of heaven, he humbly allows himself to be taken before the Ancient One who then bestows authority on him.   The future that God has planned for the chosen people and for us is a gift that no human power is capable of claiming, but one that a humble people can receive freely.

  In the gospel Jesus takes Peter, James and John up a high mountain by themselves. They saw Jesus transfigured before their eyes.   “His face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light”.   The closest that I come to imagine this scene is the glow of a couple in love, of a child making their first holy communion or a person who has had a profound experience of God’s love.  Have you had experiences where something or someone seemed transfigured before you, revealing “something more” about them, a deeper layer of being and meaning?

  Next Moses and Elijah appeared to them and Peter suggests tents for each of them so they can stay on the mountain.   Peter is interrupted by a bright cloud and a voice saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”   The disciples were overcome by fear but Jesus came to them and touched them saying “Rise, and do not be afraid.”   The event was now over and they began coming down the mountain when they are told that they were to keep this a secret until the “Son of Man” (Jesus) was raised from the dead.   I am sure that they wanted to tell everyone what had happened but now they are told to keep it a secret.   After Jesus death and burial and resurrection it must have been great that the three of them could now share this experience with the rest of the apostles and disciples of Our Lord.

  The opening prayer for this feast reminds us that the transfiguration of the Lord “confirmed the mysteries of faith. . .and wonderfully prefigured our full adoption” through which we will become co-heirs with Christ.  That prayer helps us to focus on three dimensions of today’s Gospel.

  First, we can see what this event meant for Jesus.  Matthew has told us that at the time of his baptism Jesus heard the voice of God claiming him as his son.  Now not just Jesus but his disciples as well hear God’s affirmation of the beloved Son.  Jesus’ own awareness of being chosen has become a shared experience:  His disciples have witnessed God’s affirmation of him.

  Secondly, the disciples saw Jesus more clearly than they ever had before.  They saw him for who he truly was as the beloved Son of the Father.  His shining face and clothing expressed the luminosity of his being as the one through whom God’s life and love had taken flesh.  The vision on the mountain told them that all Jesus had been doing—the controversy, the healings, the teachings, the breaking of bread—everything he did pleased God.

  The third dimension of the mountaintop revelation was perhaps even more difficult to grasp—what they saw in Jesus was what they were to become:  God’s beloved.  In the transfiguration of Jesus, Peter, James, and John see their own glorification.  And so do we.