HOMILY FOR THE FEAST OF TRANSFIGURATION OF OUR LORD YEAR A.
THEME: Seeing the Glory of God.
BY: Fr. Luke Ijezie.
Resp. Psalm 97:1-2,5-6,9
2 Peter 1:16-19
The direct seeing of God, which is called the beatific vision, is the ultimate goal of our Christian life. As the Church celebrates the Transfiguration of the Lord this Sunday, we cannot but cast our minds and imaginations on the reality of the heavenly glory. The love of heaven was instilled into us as little children, with many biblical and pedagogical stories. These stories made us dream of heaven frequently, and we longed to experience it. The childlike imagination of paradise and what the heavenly joy looked like fired our zeal for holiness. No doubt, the greatest attraction of the Jewish-Christian religion is the promise of heaven together with the vision of God. The same attraction is seen in Islam. Unfortunately, the secularist times in which we live try to deemphasise everything about heaven and the imagination of it. The modern world has a way of dissuading us from thinking of heaven, as our thoughts are fully channeled to the pleasures and fantasies of success in this present life. Even though we know that this world is transitory we tend to tranquillise ourselves with the consciousness that there is still enough time for us to accumulate and enjoy the world and its pleasures. Those who find it difficult to make ends meet often remain desolate thinking that all is lost. But the feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus tries to bring us back to the fact that what really matters is that glory that awaits us in heaven. If we gain the whole world and lose that glory, then we are the most miserable of creatures. The true picture is that everything we see around us and everything we possess are meant to prepare us for that ultimate glory. If this ultimate glory, which is the vision of God, is not the goal, then our life here on earth, no matter its achievements and no matter its length, is completely useless and a waste of time.
1. The first reading from the book of Daniel (7:9-10,13-14) presents Daniel’s mysterious vision of the Son of Man to whom almighty power, glory and kingdom is given. All peoples, tribes and tongues are destined to serve him, and his power is presented as everlasting power and with a kingdom that would never come to an end. This vision was meant to give hope to the Jews who were suffering under the persecution of the Seleucid king, Antiochus Epiphanes. The Hellenistic kingdom of Antiochus was already doomed to vanish, and it would be replaced with an everlasting kingdom that coming straight from God. This is also a glorious vision of the future of humanity whose only hope is to continue living in the presence of God. This divine presence, as Psalm 97 says, is the reign of God, and it comes with justice and glory for all to see and enjoy.
2. The second reading and the Gospel together announce the arrival of this glorious presence in the person of Jesus. The second reading from 2Pet 1:16-19 interprets the whole episode of the Transfiguration as the manifestation of the glory of Jesus which Peter and his colleagues saw and of which they have become witnesses. The great moment in the visionary encounter, as we read in Matt 17:1-9, is their privileged vision of the transfigured Jesus and his two companions, Moses and Elijah. Peter could not hide his ecstasy as he exclaimed: “Lord, how wonderful it is for us to be here!” It was an indescribable moment of glory and wonder. It was an experience that Peter and his two companions, James and John, would relish all their lives. It was meant to strengthen their faith in the face of the impending scandal of the Cross, and it worked.
3. The joyful thing is that God wants to make our whole life a continuous experience of glory. The condition for this experience is simple: listening to Jesus. Yes, the Father Himself proclaims it from heaven: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, listen to him!” Listening to Jesus means aligning our way of thinking and way of living to his. It means a new approach to reality. It means abandoning the false ideologies of this passing world and following the teaching of Christ and his Church. It means seeing the glory of God reflected in all things and pursuing that glory. It demands having only one orientation in our approach to the world, namely, making use of material things to discover the glory of God, which is His presence. By so doing we begin to see things and people from a new perspective, and we begin really to love them with genuine love and compassion, because we then see in them the presence of God. In other words, we see heaven everywhere because we see God’s presence everywhere. Then together with the psalmist we can sing: “I keep the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure. For you will not give me up to Sheol, or let your faithful one see the Pit. You will show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps 16:8-11).
May God give us the grace we need to always experience the glory, the peace and the joy of His presence!
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