The Transfiguration of the Lord, Year ABC

Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14; Psalm 97; 2 Peter 1:16-19; Matthew 17:1-9

First Reading: Today’s first reading gives a sublime description of heaven, with symbolic, mysterious language. God takes his seat amidst throngs of angels. It is both throne room and court of law, and into it comes a man, who is presented to God and given the kingship. For Christians, the “one like a Son of man” is Christ.

Psalm 97: Psalm 97 celebrates the reign of God over Israel. The people experience God as a mysterious force, like “clouds and darkness.” God’s reign is founded on justice, and God’s power is overwhelming.

Second Reading: In the second reading we hear a first-hand account of today’s feast: Peter himself describes what he saw and heard on the mount of Transfiguration.

Gospel: In all the synoptic accounts of the Gospel, the story of the Transfiguration comes after Jesus tells the disciples about his approaching Crucifixion and Death. Jesus takes Peter, James, and John with him, and these three become witnesses of Jesus in his heavenly glory.

Reflection: Sunglasses have become so much a fashion accessory—some people consider them really cool—that we sometimes forget their real purpose. Sunglasses offer us many more important benefits than making a fashion statement. They make us more comfortable in very bright light, filter out harmful ultraviolet rays, and protect the eyeballs and tender skin around the eyes from sunburn and the serious consequences that cane come from that. It would seem that the transfiguration would have been a sunglasses moment for Peter, James, and John, but something entirely new was happening when Jesus’ “face shone like the sun” and “his clothes became white as light.”

In looking at the Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah represent the law and prophecy of the old covenant. When the voice from the cloud tells Peter, James and John to “listen to” Jesus, they will hear something new. They were not prepared, however, for the “new’ Jesus was inaugurating: that human flesh can shine with the glory of God; that death is not the end, rising “from the dead” is. Jesus’ new covenant promises us a share in his risen Life. In the transfiguration of Jesus, Peter, James, and John see their own glorification. And so do we!

If we are to enter into Jesus’s glorification, then we must be open to a transfiguration of ourselves, of our lives, and our own destiny. We must let go of our own limited vision and horizons and “listen to” Jesus opening up for us the uncharted territory of remarkable compassion and mercy, forgiveness and care, love and humility. We must allow Jesus to transfigure us.

Question for reflection: What needs to be “transfigured” in my life to be a better disciple?

Copyright © 2017, Scott W. Eakins. All Rights Reserved.

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