We might wonder why the “Transfiguration”
is important, whether
to these Apostles, or to us.
Answer: it tells us exactly who Jesus is.
If you watch late-night cable,
or browse the bookstore,
you can find lots of people who
get pretty excited over “secrets” and “codes”—
meanwhile, we have the Scriptures
right before us!
This event comes right in the middle
of the Gospel of Mark.
The question that’s been building is,
Who is Jesus?
So just before today’s passage,
Jesus himself asks the question:
“who do people say that I am?”
The Apostles say, “John the Baptist, Elijah…
one of the prophets.”
He asks again, “Who do you say that I am?”
And Peter blurts out, “You are the Messiah.”
Jesus responds to Peter’s insight
by offering even more:
He begins to reveal his plan of salvation:
He will suffer, die,
and rise again on the third day.
That was hard for Peter to accept;
But the Lord insists:
That’s who I am; if you want to follow me,
you must “take up your cross!”
The difficulty remains: what kind of Messiah?
A Messiah who conquers,
or who suffers and dies on the Cross?
This is who Jesus is.
The Cross is his glory!
That’s where he reigns!
That’s how he conquers the world:
Not the Rambo-Messiah, guns-ablazing—
That’s our way.
Jesus conquers by giving his life away,
to wipe away sin, to reconcile us
to God and one another.
We like the Rambo-Messiah
when he conquers…someone else!
But for that part of us
that needs forgiveness,
aren’t you glad to have
the Cross-Messiah instead?
Aren’t you glad to hear Jesus say,
I will conquer, not by killing you,
but by dying for you!
So, now we come to today’s Gospel.
Jesus knows how difficult
the Cross will be for them;
So to strengthen them for it,
he reveals his full glory.
If we look even closer,
we’ll find even more.
Notice something Father Tim Schehr,
from our seminary, picked up:
Peter says, let’s have three shrines—
implying all three are equals.
But then the Father answers from heaven:
“This is my beloved Son—listen to him!”
That’s when they only see Jesus.
We might wonder, why Moses and Elijah?
Why not Abraham or David or someone else?
Well—again, to quote Fr. Schehr—
“Moses represents the Law;
Elijah, the Prophets.”
And both left this world…
outside the Promised Land.”
Now, we see they’ve arrived!
Jesus isn’t a prophet like them:
he’s their salvation!
One more thing.
In the Old Testament,
God spoke to a lot of folks,
but only two went up a mountain
to see the Lord’s glory.
But before, when they went up the mountain,
they couldn’t bear to see it!
Moses hid in a rock;
Elijah covered his head.
But they don’t have to hide, here!
So we ask, Who is Jesus?
Mark shows us:
He is the One who Moses and Elijah
wanted to see!
the Lord God himself! God Almighty!
If you wonder, what’s this do for us?
Same as the Apostles.
They needed this to strengthen them
for their crisis of faith.
So do we.
In years ahead, what crisis
may come for our nation?
What might we face in our families,
or our own lives?
Can anyone deny
we have our own crisis of faith?
For so many, their faith is not a priority.
Smaller families, fewer baptisms,
Nationwide, Catholic schools are struggling—
and the same is true here.
That’s when we need
to remember who Jesus is!
Our only answer is to say:
Jesus truly is Lord!
When others around us get dazzled by
secret codes and hidden Gospels,
remember St. Peter’s words
in the second reading:
This is not a “cleverly devised myth”—
We saw him with our own eyes!
Are you in a dark place?
Keep your eyes fixed on his light,
And wait for the morning star!
Last Sunday, you may recall hearing
Father Tom, Father Ang, or me, say
our homilies for a few weeks
would be on the Mass.
So what’s the connection today?
Our “transfiguration” experience is the Mass.
This is where we come to do
as the Father said:
Listen to My Son!
Especially in the Scriptures.
Some can’t hear, I know;
some don’t get much from them.
May I ask, do you read them ahead of time?
If they’re hard to understand,
How about a weekly Bible Study?
I lead one every Wednesday,
7pm, at St. Boniface.
We’re in Genesis, but we can look
at anything you like.
And if something else would help,
let me know!
In our homilies,
the priests try to offer some insights;
no question we could do better.
But again—I ask you to do your part:
Let us know!
Tell us what made sense—
and, I really mean this—
Tell when it didn’t!
All us priests need to hear that.
Let me end with this.
The glory the Apostles saw in Jesus—
where did it come from?
The answer, of course,
is that it was there all the time—
they simply needed his help to see it.
I want to do my part
to help you see that Glory;
But ultimately, Jesus himself does that.
If we ask—I mean, really ask—He will.