Homily: 2P 1:16-19; Mt. 17: 1- 9


THIS IS MY BELOVED SON WITH WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED. LISTEN TO HIM. There are a variety of ways of reading the Bible and in particular the New Testament. Each of these approaches to the sacred text has some particular advantage that will make it appeal to one person and not to another at any given time. It is certainly safe to asset that there is one feature which all the evangelists and other sacred authors of the New Testament have in common. That is to give prominence to the person of Jesus Christ as the one who reveals God's plan of redemption and as well makes known something of the inner life of the Trinity. No matter what specific literary technique or theological perspective any of these authors might employ they share this same purpose to preach Jesus as the Savior and the beloved Son of God who is the way to the Father.

Today's feast of the Transfiguration celebrates an event which all three synoptic evangelists considered particularly effective in setting forth the inner life of Jesus and suggests something of his normally hidden glory. Accordingly, the accounts of the transfiguration provide a key to interpreting many other passages in each of the Gospels in which it is related. The whole of Jesus' activity and even the entirety of his life require to be seen against the background of his special relation to his heavenly Father which is brought out so forcefully in the course of this mysterious display of his glory. The Father's voice is heard to exclaim THIS IS MY BELOVED SON WITH WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED. LISTEN TO HIM. Only when we keep in mind this unique relation existing between the son and the Father can be gain a proper understanding of any of Jesus' acts and teaching. The meaning and the significance of what he does are determined by who he is above all in his personal relations with the Father.

The purpose of the Transfiguration was precisely to impart to the three apostles who were closest to Jesus and so held such important roles in his Church a more complete knowledge of his person and of his sacrificial death. The fact that Jesus appears in the Gospel of Matthew which we have just heard speaking with Moses and Elias signifies that he is the one of whom both prophesized. He is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets which these two holy personages personify. We are to have confidence that he comes from God the Father in order to complete the work of redemption begun by the Patriarchs and prophets. He is the one promised by the Father and we rightly understand the scriptures only when we understand his unique role in carrying out the Father's will.

The central figure in the Bible is Jesus, the redeemer, the eternal Son who is God and man. Our faith is not fixed upon any system of thought, or focused on some dogma, however important it might be. Rather, our faith terminates in a divine person who is both God and man at the same time and in knowing whom the believer comes to know the Father. This truth is what gives life to the scriptures. Only when we so listen to the sacred text as to discern in it something of the living presence of the Lord Jesus, the one in whom the Father finds the fullness of joy do we discover its proper meaning. The importance of this event of Christ's transfiguration lies in the fact that it discloses a hidden aspect of Jesus' person in all its dimensions, spiritual and corporal. His body also reflects his glory and is destined to participate in his vital union with the Father for all ages to come. This truth is set before our eyes in today's feast and opens up before us a perspective that we do well to keep in view as we search the scriptures for the way that leads to the Father's house.

At this Eucharist we offer and receive the very same body of Christ that displayed the light of glory on Mount Tabor. This light is imparted to us as we enter into communion with the risen Lord in this sacrament so that we might walk in the paths that terminate in the kingdom of the Father. While it remains hidden even from us in the depths of our soul, yet it shines there waiting to be seen once we are introduced into this hidden place of the heart. St. Paul understood this well and expressed it in memorable terms. For God who said "Let light shine out of the darkness", shines in our hearts for the enlightenment of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus (2Cor. 4: 6). May each of us obtain the grace of this feast so that we become worthy to enter this place of God within us often in prayer. Then shall we be fully purified from all that separates us from union with God and the vision of his glory shining on the face of his beloved Son our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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