Homily for the feast of the Transfiguration - Year B - Mk. 9:2-10


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves; and he was transfigured before them, and his garments became glistening, intensely white, as no fuller on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses; and they were talking to Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, 'Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.' For he did not know what to say, for they were exceedingly afraid. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, 'This is my beloved Son; listen to him.' And suddenly looking around they no longer saw any one with them but Jesus only. And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of man should have risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant."





Homily:


"And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves; and he was transfigured before them."


Each year, August 6 is consecrated to the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. It is a very great mystery which we are led to contemplate in following the three apostles whom Jesus took with him on the mountain: Peter, James, and John. But it is especially in following Peter that we will witness this unique event in the life of Jesus. For if there was one person that day who dared to react to this mystery, it truly was Peter: the Transfiguration of the Lord marked the spirit of this apostle to such an extent that he spoke about it at length in his second epistle (cf. 2 P. 1:16-18). With Peter, and in following him, let us see what took place on that 6th of August before the death of Jesus...


"His garments became glistening, intensely white, as no fuller on earth could bleach them."


The mystery of the Transfiguration, for Jesus, consists in expressing all the light and glory of his divinity. Jesus, who is man, wants to show in the clearest possible way that he is also, and first, God. Also, that which is human in him, while remaining truly human, takes on an appearance which completely surpasses all that the mind of man can conceive within itself: in transfiguring himself before his apostles, Jesus presents himself to them as a man who, if it were taken any further, would appear to no longer be man, but only God. In short, Jesus wants to show to those who belong to him everything that God offers, for all eternity, to the whole of the humanity that he assumed and regenerated through the mystery of his Incarnation and that of the Paschal Redemption.


"And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses; and they were talking to Jesus."


All that the Prophets announced on behalf of God, all that Moses taught the People that God had chosen for himself: all of this, the transfigured Jesus accomplishes and perfects in himself. There is no other way than this: we must believe the Prophets and do what they say, we must observe the Law of God that Moses taught in the form of the Ten Commandments, if, with Peter, we want to witness the Transfiguration of Christ. In other words, if we want to merit the glory of Heaven at the end of our life on earth, we must obey the Law of God and follow the Spirit of the Lord who speaks to us through his Prophets. In Heaven, the beatific vision of the Glory of God in Christ is reserved for all those who, during their life on earth, had seen in Jesus, through the vision of faith, all the Power of the Divinity.


"And Peter said to Jesus, 'Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.' For he did not know what to say, for they were exceedingly afraid."


Truly, Peter is happy! James and John are happy too, but only Peter dares to tell Jesus. Truly, the enthusiasm of Peter made him the privileged witness of this event. And he wants it to last for a long, long time! So long, in fact, that he wants to set up shelters - tents of a sort - so that Jesus, Moses and Elijah would be able to remain there, before him, in the light and the splendor of Glory! Truly, the Transfiguration of Christ left its mark on the spirit of Peter: this is what he wants to see with his eyes, forever and ever and ever... And Peter will remember it for a long time, recounting the event in his second epistle, as I have already said. Would it not be this memory which he held before his eyes when he died some thirty years later, crucified - but, unlike his Master, crucified upside-down? Let us call to mind the death of Pope Paul VI (who, one day, will be declared blessed) which took place on Sunday August 6, 1978, the feast of the Transfiguration: it is quite possible that both Peter, the first Pope, and his Successor, Pope Paul VI, entered into the Glory of the Lord with the memory of the Transfiguration of Jesus in their spirit.


"And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, 'This is my beloved Son; listen to him.' And suddenly looking around they no longer saw any one with them but Jesus only."


This episode ends with the words of the heavenly Father, who declares concerning Jesus: "This is my beloved Son; listen to him." Vision is no longer enough, it is also necessary for the sense of hearing to be satisfied by the bliss of Heaven! And it is precisely these words of the Father which will bring the vision to an end. A paradox? Certainly, but it is the paradox of the Gospel. The Transfiguration of Jesus is but one step, a path to the Glory of Heaven, an anticipation and a beginning of eternity, if one can speak of it in this way. The Christian already lives in Heaven through faith, hope, and charity, but he nonetheless remains on earth, obliged to faithfully follow the Law of God and the inspirations of the Spirit of the Lord. In following Peter, James and John, we must all listen to Christ, our Master: in the Heaven of our soul, the Son of God satisfies us with his Word, and in our body, we bear the marks of his Passion through our obedience of faith.


"And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of man should have risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant."


Today, Jesus is risen! The Mystery of the Transfiguration can be proclaimed everywhere and always. So let us not hesitate to do so! Let us ask Peter to help us! Let us ask Mary, the Mother of Jesus, to help us to better understand this great Mystery, for she lived it in another way, even more intimately than the apostles, when she carried within herself Jesus, the Child conceived through the Holy Spirit!



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