Daniel 7:9-10,13-14 Ps.97; 2Pt.1:16-19; Luke 9:28b-36
You are the Light of the World
No one who encounters God ever remains the same. This truth is uniquely shown in the transfiguration account from the gospel of Luke. Although the synoptic gospels contain this account of the transfiguration, only Luke situated it within the context of prayer. Jesus was transfigured while he was praying; his countenance was altered and his clothing became dazzling white. This gives truth to the words we say when we profess our faith: light from light, true God from true God.
This experience of Jesus is closely connected to that of Moses in Exodus 34:29-35. When Moses returned from Mount Sinai where he had spoken with God face-to-face, his face was radiant. However, there is a difference between the radiance of Jesus and that of Moses. While Moses’ face shone by the light of God that was imposed on him, Jesus’ light shone from within because he is truly God. Moses received light; Jesus beamed out light. Only Jesus can truly lighten us.
As Moses was descending Mount Sinai, he had with him the Torah he received from God. This too is beautifully played out in the Transfiguration. Jesus is not given a Torah, rather a voice came from heaven authenticating the Jesus’ divine sonship and asking that He (Jesus) be listened to because he is the Torah himself. Moses needed to be given the Torah for he does not fully reveal God. To follow Jesus is to obey all the commandments.
Again, Moses entered the holy of holies alone because God qualified him to do so. Since Moses is not God who saves, he cannot extend this qualification to others – he cannot help others to behold the direct presence of God. Jesus is God and is able to save; therefore, he perfectly leads us to experience God face-to-face. Thus, he did not go alone, but too along Peter, James and John. He remains with us in the Holy Eucharist so that each and every one of us can be transfigured. Only God can truly save us.
Moses’ imperfect revelation of God leads the people into fear and avoidance when they saw him descend from the mountain. Jesus’ perfect revelation of God causes those present to long for a permanent abode. This calls us to reflect on our image of God. The best image of God is love. Love attracts; fear repels.
Beloved, our Transfiguration begins at our baptism. The lighted candle and the white cloth represent the radiance of Christ glory. As we clothed with the white garment, the minister said “N., you have become a new creation, and have clothed yourself in Christ. See in this while garment the outward sign of your Christian dignity”. While handing over the lighted candle, the minister said, “Parents and godparents, this light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly. This child of yours has been enlightened by Christ. He (she) is to walk always as a child of light….”. Our Transfiguration will culminate at the last day when we shall behold the beatific vision with our glorified bodies. Only those who have been transfigured here on earth and have kept their garment white and their candle lighted, can be fully transfigured into eternity. This is the thrust of St. Peter’s message in the second reading.
Moses represents the Law; Elijah, the prophets. Jesus is the fulfillment of both. In the gospel reading, we see that the content of their (Jesus, Moses and Elijah) message was the exodus of Jesus; that is, his paschal mystery. It is through the paschal mystery that the brightness of Jesus’ light will be most felt. Beloved, we too have been called to be light to the world. This presupposes darkness. We can do this by living out our baptismal promises.
As the bread and wine are raised during consecration, behold the transfigured Jesus and ask him for the grace to listen to him so that you may be perfectly transfigured through everlasting union with him. God Bless You!
Fr. Evaristus Okeke
(AUGUST 6, 2019)