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HOMILY FOR THE FEAST OF THE TRANSFIGURATION OF THE LORD
HOMILY THEME: THE GLORY IS THE REWARD
BY: Fr. Johnbosco Obika
In a certain parish a sendoff ceremony was organized for the catechist having worked for many years. A moderate some of money was given to him in appreciation for his services. However, the catechist was not happy with the parishioners because the gift he received from them was below his expectations. He took his grudges to the parish priest and explained how embittered he was at the gift he received having served so well selflessly in the parish. The parish priest in response told the catechist that his reward is in heaven. The angry catechist replied that even though every reward is in heaven but his own reward should start here. The point of this story is that nothing in this world will be enough as a reward for good work and good life. As funny as it may sound it bears the truth of stewardship on earth.
Many people have dedicated their life in total service to the God and humanity. Some spend almost all they have in charity, others help the sick and the needy in a very remarkable way. Many too in the midst of adversity and persecution have remained steadfast in faith. In the midst of corrupt world so many people are outstanding in righteousness and holiness of life. However, sometimes people have this feeling of doubt that prompt them to ask if there is any reward for good deeds and good life. Is our good work going to be in vain?
This worry about the future and reward of the righteous spurred Peter to ask Jesus: “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?” (Matt. 1927). The disciples were yet uncertain about the mission of Jesus The uncertainty of where Jesus was going also made the mother of the sons of thunder James and John to request Jesus to allow her sons seat in his left and right hand in order to secure their future (Matt. 20:20-28). After the prediction of his passion, Jesus told his disciples that every one who wants to follow must to deny himself, take up his cross and follow him. The disciples were dismayed and heartbroken after hearing for it was inconceivable that the Messiah should suffer. There was doubt among the disciples concerning if Jesus was truly the Messiah and if he was truly on the right course.
Today, we celebrate the feast of the transfiguration of our Lord. In the transfiguration on Mount Tabor, Jesus achieved three things. 1. He proved to the disciples that he was on the right track to save mankind 2. He revealed to them the glory and the kingdom that awaits those who suffer on his account. That his kingdom is not like earthly kingdom built with authority and power but the one that is built with self giving and love 3. The revelation of his glory gives us reason to believe, reason to hope and reason to move on.
In the first reading Daniel had a vision of the one like the son of man who was presented before the ancient of days seated on the throne. “And to him was given dominion and glory and kingdom”. This prefigures the glory that Jesus was crowned with after undergoing the cross. In the second reading Peter as a first hand witness testifies to the honor and glory given to Jesus by the Father on the mountain. He encourages us to be attentive to the message of hope that is proclaimed through this event which the disciples possess.
In the gospel Matthew gives an account of how Jesus was transfigured before his three apostles on the mountaintop. The mountain in the bible is always considered a special place of encounter with God. In Ex. 31:18, the tablets of the law were given to Moses by God in Mount Sinai. In 1Kg. 19:9-18, on Mount Horeb Elijah encountered God, and on Mount Tabor, the apostles experienced a glimpse of the vision of God’s glory. While he was praying, Jesus was transfigured. His face changed and his garment was sparkling. And suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared. These men were the two most important figures of the Old Testament. Moses was the great lawgiver –whom God had entrusted the teaching of the Law. Elijah on the other hand represents the prophets. Christ, making them three, is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets. Thus, the history of Israel was complete on the mountain. Moses and Elijah were probably discussing Christ’s passion with him which he was to accomplish in Jerusalem. Jesus was to lead the “new Israel” in the “new exodus” out the slavery of sin.
The gospel passage also speaks of the cloud that completely covered Jesus and His disciples. The cloud which overshadowed Jesus and his apostles fulfilled the dream of the Jews that when the Messiah comes the cloud of God’s presence would fill the temple again (see Exodus 16:10, 19:9, 33:9; 1 Kings 8:10; 2 Maccabees 2:8). Forming of clouds on the mountain is not uncommon. But this one was very different. In the Old Testament, the cloud depicts the presence and glory of God. In Exodus 13:21ff, a pillar of cloud led the children of Israel through the wilderness. In Exodus 34:5, God descended to give Moses the Law in a pillar of cloud. The cloud was present at the dedication of the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34ff). Same cloud filled the whole place at the dedication of the temple built by Solomon (1 Kings 8:10ff; 2 Chron. 5:13ff; 7:2). Little wonder God spoke from the cloud saying “this is my Son, the chosen One. Listen to him.” (Lk 9:35). God’s voice brought comfort to the apostles and helped them understand Jesus’ Passion and death.
The Lord wants us to be partakers in his glory, he wants to share his glory with us. The voice of the Father spoke from the cloud and asks us to listen to Jesus. He wants us to follow his way and path that leads to glory. His way is the way of the cross. The cross means the sacrifices we make for others to be happy; It is the tears we shed for others in prayer. It is the effort we make to help others. The cross is represented by what we deny in order to be children of God. May God help us to understand that whatever we are going through today is a preparation for the glory to come.