This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus, in which Jesus reveals His glory to His beloved disciples. It was a great privilege for Peter, James, and John to see Jesus Transfigured. They got a preview of the glory of Jesus risen from the dead and His glory in heaven. It was also a preview of the glory we all hope to share in heaven.
The first reading, taken from the Book of Daniel, presents us with Daniel’s vision of God’s glorious Heavenly Court of Judgment, where the devil is eternally punished and the ascended Jesus is glorified. God the Father is depicted as being seated on a throne in Heaven, His glory flashing out and angels surrounding Him. Judgment is imminent, and will be followed by the execution of the sentence. Divine judgment is passed on the terrible beast representing the devil and the evil kingdoms controlled by him, and he is removed from power. Then God gives “dominion, glory and kingship” to the one like the “Son of man”—representing Jesus.
In the second reading, St. Peter’s second letter to the early Christians, Peter argues that the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ and the testimony of the Old Testament prophets are the guarantee of the doctrine of Christ’s Second Coming. The “prophetic word” refers to all Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament; these were fulfilled in Jesus in the New Testament. Just as the Transfiguration was a reality Peter had witnessed, the Second Coming of Jesus will be a reality which everyone will experience.
In the account of the Transfiguration in today’s Gospel, Jesus is revealed as a glorious figure, superior to Moses and Elijah. Moses represents the law and Elijah, the prophets in the Old Testament. Scriptural scholars give several reasons for Jesus’ Transfiguration. The primary purpose of this event was to allow Jesus to consult his Heavenly Father in order to ascertain His plan for His Son’s suffering, death and Resurrection. The secondary aim was to make His chosen disciples aware of Jesus’ Divine glory, so that they might discard their worldly ambitions and dreams of a conquering political Messiah and be strengthened in their time of trial. On the mountain where this occurred, Jesus is identified by the Heavenly Voice as the Son of God. Thus, the Transfiguration narrative is a Christophany, that is, a manifestation or revelation of Who Jesus really is, the beloved Son of God. In describing Jesus’ Transfiguration, the Gospel gives us a glimpse of the Heavenly glory awaiting those who do God’s will by putting their trusting Faith in Him.
The Transfiguration of Jesus offers us a message of hope. In moments of doubt and despair, the expectation of our transformation in Heaven helps us to reach out to God and listen to His consoling words: “You are my beloved son [daughter] in whom I am well pleased.” These words not only remind of us of our identity as sons and daughters of God, but also remind us of an important truth. If we do God’s will and remain faithful to Him, as did Jesus, His beloved Son, God will say to each one of us that we are also His beloved sons and daughters.
We need these “mountain-top” experiences in our lives too. Jesus went up to the mountain with His three disciples to pray at the place where He was transfigured. This was a powerful experience and the disciples wanted to be there forever, nothing truly mattered to them than being with Jesus. These three disciples witnessed Jesus’ glory for their love and closeness with Him. Prayer is what brings us closer to Jesus, and deepens our love for Him.
We had a wonderful week of VBS last week; more than 200 kids, 60 teens, and 30 adults participated this year. It was a great opportunity for our children to learn their faith through music, roleplaying and other activities. I was very touched by the energy and enthusiasm of our children. My request to the parents is to continue to teach your children and to promote a “God experience” in them by bringing them to church for Mass, praying together at home, and teaching basic faith principles at home. I also want to thank the parents and the Santa Sophia parish community for your generous support. A special word of thanks to Nira Clark and her team for leading the program. It was a powerful week; God bless!