Sunday, August 6, 2017 – Year A/I
This Sunday was the commemoration of the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ, known in the Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Anglican churches as The Feast of the Transfiguration of Christ. This event in the life and ministry of Jesus is recounted in the synoptic gospels (Matthew 17:1–8, Mark 9:2–8, Luke 9:28–36) and is first mentioned in church history in the year 850 C.E.
As we read from the Gospel According to Luke, Jesus and three of his disciples, Peter, John and James, go to a mountain to pray. In the midst of their prayers, Jesus has transformed: “the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white.” Luke 9:29. The apostles saw Moses and Elijah, appearing in glory and talking to Jesus about what was to happen in Jerusalem soon. The author of Luke writes that they speak of his departure. We know now that they were speaking of Jesus’ passion; his crucifixion, death, and resurrection.
Peter knows this is a holy and momentous event and offers to make three dwellings for them, perhaps with the hope that these great prophets will remain with Jesus.
If this wasn’t spectacular enough, as Moses and Elijah leave, a cloud overwhelms the apostles and they are terrified as it surrounds them. From the cloud they hear a voice: “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”
What we know about this event is that it is a miracle that happens to Jesus. He is the recipient of God’s unfathomable wonder; he is transformed by God, who shows us how Jesus is the bridge between heaven and the World, and God and the World.
The author of Luke tells us that “they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.” Luke 9:36. This was an incredible moment. Perhaps it had occurred to them that Jesus really was everything he said he was and that knowledge was both wonderful and frightening. Here was a man, their brother, a man they had eaten with, lived with, traveled with, someone who came from the same background as they, who was going to fulfill the prophecies. Here was the man who would deliver Israel at last.
Now imagine how you would feel after witnessing something like this. After the cloud dissipates and the voice is silent, Jesus is standing there alone. He looks and sounds the same, the same smile, the frown, the voice. But he’s changed and you sense it.
You are changed, too.
Just as God transforms Jesus, Jesus has transformed us. Our faith and our baptism into the body of Christ transform us into who Jesus expects us to be in the Kingdom of Heaven: people who love who love God with all our hearts, minds and souls, love each other as Jesus loves us and show that love in our right action and how we proclaim the Gospel every day. Sharing the agape is perhaps the most transformative for Christians, for when we take the bread and wine we are one with Christ and our community for we are present at the Last Supper in the upper room and it transforms us as no other meal can.
I used to think, as a child, that love was only for Christmas. It was the only time of the year that I noticed people being nice to one another. Maturity and life in a faith community have made me understand that that is not the case, nor the way it’s supposed to be. The transformative love and faith given to us are for every day of the year; in this, the ‘New Dark Age,’ they are essential for survival. They are metaphorical weapons at our disposal for resistance to those who would take away our rights and alter our way of life. When they give us hate, we show them, love. When they want to sow division, we scuff away the line drawn in the dirt and stand shoulder to shoulder.
Love does this. Being transformed does this.