Homily for the Transfiguration of the Lord - Year B - Mk. 9:2-10
Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
" 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. "
The Transfiguration of Jesus takes place a few (six) days after Peter's profession of faith, when he said to Christ: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (Mt. 16:16; cf. Mk. 8:29 and Lk. 9:20) So Peter has just had an interior revelation from the Father, instructing him on the identity of that Man called Christ, and who is - as Peter now knows in the Holy Spirit - the Son of God, the Word of the Father made flesh. Today, Peter will receive a new revelation from the Father concerning his Son. But he will not receive it alone, for this revelation will not be an interior one, as would be appropriate for a revelation that is received personally, but rather an exterior one: the revelation that the Father will make at the Transfiguration of his Son is a public revelation, which is destined to instruct several people at once, without distinction. In fact, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John with him, and it is before these three that He is transfigured under the gaze of the Father.
" Jesus took with him Peter and James and John. "
Why does Jesus take only three of his disciples with him, only three out of the twelve Apostles? However, do we dare to ask God "why"? Does God not have his reasons? Or rather, does God not have his Mysteries? Yes, of course! For, God being above all reason, He is, intrinsically, a Mystery, and all that He decides and does is properly speaking a Mystery. This is the whole of the Mystery of his sovereign Will which governs all with Wisdom, in the order and the plan of his Providence! But the Word of God having been incarnated in Christ, according to the order of his Will, to the incomprehensible Mystery of God is now joined that reality that is for us a true and comprehensible sign, a fully human expression of the Will of God towards us. The Humanity of Christ has become for us a manifest and comprehensible sign in the faith of that Will of God that is forever mysterious and impenetrable by itself.
" He was transfigured before them. "
Saint Matthew adds that "his face shone like the sun" (Mt. 17:2). Why is the Transfiguration of Jesus accomplished principally with regard to his face? The answer is, first, of the natural order: a person's face is what principally distinguishes him or her from all other people; it is the face of a person that allows us to say who that person is. A person's face is that which expresses all of his or her individuality, everything that distinguishes him or her from others. But the answer is also supernatural and mystical. Does Saint Paul not tell us that Christ is the HEAD of the Church: "He is the head of the body, of the Church." (Col. 1:18)? That is, Saint Paul presents Christ to us as a man whose principal part, more so than for any other man or woman, is the head, that part of the body that allows one to talk and to express one's speech, and particularly that speech of God that is Christ, or the incarnate Word of the Father.
" His face shone like the sun. " (Mt. 17:2)
The ruler of a social body like the Church, that person who commands, governs, and gives orders, is called "the head". Christ is our Head, and we all owe him our obedience, we must offer him our "obedience of faith" (cf. Rm. 1:5). Of all the celestial bodies, it is the sun that is the symbol and the image of Christ, our head. The sun, which certain peoples have worshipped as a god, is that star which presides over the progression of our day: it is the celestial body of the day par excellence. The sun, symbol of Christ, is also there to indicate to us which day is the day of the week par excellence: it is the day of the Lord, which the Romans called "dies solis", or Sunday.
" A voice came out of the cloud, «This is my beloved Son; listen to him.» "
God the Father manifests himself exteriorly, revealing his presence by a voice. He clearly says: "This is my beloved Son; listen to him." (Mk. 9:7) This is what we do, following the Apostles, when we participate in the Sunday Eucharist: we listen to the Word of God in order to receive the Holy Eucharist with greater preparation, so that from it we might gather even more fruit for the good of the whole Church. This is our entire vocation as Christians: God takes us with him in Christ, just like Peter, James, and John, in order that by listening to his Word, by meditating upon it in our heart, we might bear fruit in abundance through the practice of the obedience of faith. May the day of the Lord be for us - through Mary, our model of obedience and of faith - the most beautiful day of our life, the day on which the Lord Jesus is transfigured before us in the presence of the Father who is in Heaven!