Sunday, February 13, 2011

Homily on The Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord


Matthew 17:1-9; 2 Peter 1:16-21; Exodus 34:29-35

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, and He filled them with His Light by the creative power of His Word. Indeed, the creative Word of God was the Light of the world even before there was sun, moon, or stars – the Light no darkness can overcome. And, when time was full, God spoke that same creative Word into Mary’s ear and into her virgin womb that the Light of the world would be conceived and born a human man and that He might make His dwelling amongst us. Throughout His life and ministry, Jesus revealed and manifested His Father’s glory, His own glory, in Words and deeds of mercy, forgiveness, life, and love, and His disciples believed in Him and they glorified God. And then, in a glorious mountain-top experience, Jesus’ face, His body, and His clothing glowed and shined forth with the preternatural Light of God, unveiled, before the very eyes of His closest disciples, and Moses and Elijah appeared, talking with Him. Heaven had descended upon earth and the disciples were understandably amazed. We can empathize with Peter in his zeal to enshrine the glory and the joy and to preserve it forever, but the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands. Thus, while Peter was still speaking the things of men, not of God, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.

The Transfiguration of Our Lord stands as a bookend at the end of the Epiphany season paired with the Baptism of Our Lord at its beginning. Throughout His life and ministry, Jesus manifested Himself as the anointed Christ of God, the Messiah, and as true God in human flesh. As the Church confesses, Jesus is God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made. He is the icon of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation – and He is all that you need. He is the love of God incarnate. He is the fulfillment of the Law. He is the New Moses. And, He is the one to whom all the prophets had pointed and the fulfillment of all prophecies. Moses and Elijah have been fulfilled and assumed into the glorious Light of Jesus and we are given to see, we need to see, no one but Jesus only.

Jesus is the Light of the world, the Light no darkness can overcome. He has penetrated the darkness of our sin and death, exposed it for what it is, so that it can be named, confessed, and forgiven. The Mount of Transfiguration revealed Jesus’ glory and light, not that we might bottle it up, adore it, and worship it here on earth, but that we might see and believe and know that that glory is located nowhere else than in the person of Jesus – then, now, and always. For, now that you confess Jesus as the anointed Christ; now that you confess Him to be God in human flesh; now you must go with Him, down from the Mount of Glory into Jerusalem to suffer and die with Him.

But, still, the glory of God is the Man Jesus, even though the world sees in Him only weakness and shame, God’s power is made perfect in weakness. What kind of god becomes a creature? What kind of god lives in selflessness, poverty, and meekness? What kind of god is stripped, whipped, mocked, and crucified? What kind of god is executed as a common criminal?Your God, and my God! Thanks be to God! For, He is a God of love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness. He is the God who lays down His life for you, His friends. He is the God who has faced death and defeated that enemy before you and for you. He is the God who works all things, even sin and every evil, even death, for your good. He is the God holds the victory over death and hell and beckons you through it into eternal life. There will be a day when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Jesus Christ as Lord, and God the Father will be glorified – of this, the Transfiguration was but a foretaste – but, first, your God has revealed His glory on another mountain, on Mount Calvary where, for God the Father’s only beloved Son there was no substitute ram caught by its horns, but the Lamb of God laid Himself down to be slain that His blood might cleanse and purify you, and the Angel of Death pass o’er.

Before the bewildering events of His Passion, Our Lord prepared His disciples by revealing a glimpse of His glory. The veil of His humility was lifted for a moment to confirm what Peter had already confessed: Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. For, their faith and trust would be tested shortly thereafter.

You also pass through dark and difficult times when your faith and trust is tested. But, you may take comfort that you live on this side of Christ’s death and resurrection. Your enemy has been defeated and Christ’s victory is yours even now. The Transfiguration of Jesus is a foretaste of what He will soon do to you in the resurrection of your body. And, you already share in that glorious life now through your Holy Baptism into Christ. And, Peter, who witnessed the glorious Transfiguration with his own eyes, says that you have something more sure, the prophetic Word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. And on this altar mountaintop you join with Peter, James, and John, Moses and Elijah, and with all the saints and the heavenly host around the throne of the Lamb of God Jesus Christ who gives you Himself for forgiveness, life, and strength until He comes. All of a Christian’s life is a life with Christ, in His presence, radiant with the light that comes from Christ, fulfilled by Christ Himself. There is no boundary between Christ, His light and glory, and our Christians lives.

In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

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