Sunday, 6 August 2017 : Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time and the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday, we celebrate not just the Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, but also the great occasion of the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. On this occasion, we remember the time when our Lord Jesus Christ was revealed in the fullness of His glory and divinity before His disciples at the Mount Tabor, in the presence of three of His disciples, St. Peter, St. James and St. John.

The occasion the Transfiguration of the Lord is truly rich with numerous symbolisms that are very significant to our faith, as it is a great revelation of not only just Who our Lord Jesus truly was, but also what the purpose of His coming into this world was, and He also showed us all an example of what all of us as Christians must do in our own respective lives.

First of all, the Transfiguration was the moment when Jesus revealed the fullness of His divine glory before mankind, represented by His own Apostles. It was where He revealed that He was not just merely a Man, the Son of Man, but instead, He was also at the same time, the Divine Son of God, Who was incarnate in the flesh through His mother Mary. Thus, Christ has two natures, Man and Divine, perfectly united in the person of Jesus Christ.

He revealed the fullness of His divine glory, as the Son of God and Saviour of all, Who then met with Moses and Elijah during that moment of Transfiguration, another important revelation and symbolism that all of us should take note of. Moses and Elijah each represents the two important tenets and aspects of the faith, namely the Law of God, for Moses was the one through whom God made known His laws to His people, while Elijah represents the prophets of God, who laboured to reveal and teach the Word of God to the people.

This is an important representation of Christ as the embodiment and fulfilment of both the Law and the Prophecies of the prophets. The Law of God was made perfect in Christ, Who revealed to His people the true meaning of the Law, teaching them what is the true purpose of the Law and how all of us mankind are able to live according to the Law, in order to love the Lord our God, by loving our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

Then, Christ is also the the perfect fulfilment of the prophecies which had been spoken by the many prophets and messengers of God, through whom God had made known His will to His people across the ages. God has promised His salvation to His people, to redeem them from the chains of sin. This is a promise which He had made from the beginning of time, from when our first ancestors first sinned against Him because of the temptation by Satan.

And thus, Jesus Christ our Lord was born through the Blessed Virgin Mary, His mother, to be the One through Whom God would fulfil His long promised salvation, and as the keystone and centrepiece in the entirety of God's grand plan of salvation and liberation for us all, His most beloved people. It was through His loving sacrifice on the cross, bearing the burden of our sins and faults that He has shown this love for us, and it is through the cross that God brought us all a new hope in Him.

Mankind have long lived in the darkness, the darkness of ignorance and the darkness of their sins and disobedience against God. The lies and wickedness of the devil have covered us, and we have been corrupted by those sins and faults which we committed in life. But deep in our hearts, all of us truly groaned for the opportunity and filled with the hope that one day all of us can be freed from the tyranny of sin and evil. And yet, it is too often that temptations of the world and the persuasions of the devil and his allies have kept us from being able to listen to this desire, the desire for us to receive God's salvation and be freed.

Thus, to all those who have seen the glory of the Lord Jesus Transfigured before their eyes, they must have seen in Him the long awaited promise of God, through the piercing light and the exceedingly bright white garments and the Body of the Lord that shone forth, as God is the True Light, Light of the world, Whose light penetrates the darkness of evil and wickedness, and Whose light is terror to evildoers and wicked people, yet a tender and loving source of hope for all those who cling on to hope in Him.

The Lord showed through His Transfiguration a glimpse into our own future state of grace, for all of us are indeed called to become like Christ, and all of us who have made ourselves worthy through our actions and deeds in life, will receive God's grace and love, and we will be, in accordance with the words of the Scriptures, transformed wholly, body and soul, our entire being, to be like the Lord, and to rejoice and share with Him in His glory forevermore.

Just as the Lord had assumed the flesh of Man by coming down upon us through Jesus Christ our Lord, therefore, by assuming His humanity, He has united us all to Him, all of us who seek Him and desire to be with Him, and just as He is glorified in His Transfiguration, we too shall also be glorified together with Him, at the time when He will come again to gather all of those whom He deems to be worthy of Him and His grace.

To us, the best examples of how we can best understand this is like that of the saints of the Church, whose deeds and actions in life are still remembered and honoured even to this very day. The saints shone with glory and greatness, but not because of their own greatness and power, but because they shine with the glory of God and the righteousness found in them. They lived in accordance with God's will and therefore, God glorified them all and lifted them up to share with Him the glory of heaven.

The saints are like the stained glass in our churches. The stained glass on their own without light do not look beautiful or shiny, and they are just like any other glass, dark and devoid of goodness. Yet, when light shines upon them and pass through them, all of us who see the light through the stained glass see the great beauty of the stained glass, just as the saints were glorified because of what God had done through them in this world.

This Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord is a reminder to all of us that God is calling us to be thoroughly transformed in our respective lives, to adhere faithfully to His ways and obey His laws wholeheartedly. We are called to walk in the footsteps of the saints and martyrs who have preceded us, and now are in the glory of heaven. They were themselves once sinners too, just like us, and yet, they listened to the Lord speaking in their hearts, calling them to righteousness.

And they responded with action, following the Lord and obeying Him, just as God reminded His disciples, that Jesus, is His Beloved Son, and that they ought to listen to Him. That is how the saints end up where they are now, because they followed the example of our Lord Jesus Christ, and they made themselves to be His faithful servants through which He exercised His good works among His people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all no longer be trapped in the darkness of sin, and strive to be freed from the chains of slavery, the slavery of sin and worldly desires, the chains of greed and hatred, of jealousy and anger, all of which had weighed us down and threatened to bring us down into the damnation in hell. Let us all instead put our trust in the Transfigured Lord, He Who had revealed His truth to us, so that we may know it, and see through Him, what we will become should we walk in His footsteps.

Yet, let us not forget, that the story of the Transfiguration of our Lord ended with a stark reminder for us, that we must not be complacent nor must we expect a life that is easy and without challenges. The three Apostles, St. Peter, St. James and St. John wanted to stay on at the Mount Tabor, in the glory of the Transfigured Christ. They wanted to pitch tents for the Lord, Moses and Elijah, so that they might continue to revel in the glory of the Lord.

But, the Lord did not have it that way. He knew that He had to go down the mountain, leaving behind His glory and the moment of His glorious revealing in His Transfiguration. He knew that going down the mountain would mean travelling on to Jerusalem and from then on to suffer the Passion, bearing the heavy cross on His shoulders, on which was laid the burdens of all of mankind's sins and faults.

Nonetheless, He went on, going down the mountain, showing His disciples by example, that firstly, for the sake of His love for His people, He was willing to shed away all of the glory of His divinity to be ridiculed and mocked, to be scourged and battered with blows, all for the sake of His love for us. Who else would have been willing to endure such punishment for our sake?

And He showed perfect humility and obedience to the will of God, His Father. All other men would have succumbed to the temptation of power and worldly glory, as Christ stood up there on the mountain, the temptation must have been great for Him to show forth His might unto the world. Yet, He humbly stepped down from that glory, and as shown in various other occasions, He always listened to the will of God His Father, and obeyed Him, even unto taking up the cross and dying for us.

Are we all able to imitate the examples of Christ in that manner? Many of us are too proud and filled with personal ego and desires, to be able to submit to the will of God. Instead, we want to bring glory to ourselves, and to gain good things for ourselves, often at the expense of others who have to suffer because of our desires and greed. This is what we cannot do, brothers and sisters in Christ. All of us must seek to be humble as Christ was, and allow God to enter into our hearts that we may be transformed.

It is often that we close our hearts to the Lord because of that pride, as we are unable to admit that we have been wrong or mistaken in our ways, that we have been sinful and wicked in our deeds. Yet, if we continue to harden our hearts, the only ones who will lose will be us, as we will end up persisting in our ways of sin. We should instead pray for the grace of humility, to listen obediently to the word of God and know His will, and what it is that He wants us to do. We should throw away the shackles placed on us by our pride and ego, and seek to become more like Christ day after day.

May the Lord, Who in His glorious Transfiguration has revealed to us the truth about Himself, help us to be ever closer to Him, to be more like Him day after day, that we will be transformed completely from the creatures of darkness we were once, to be the glorious children of God, worthy of Him and the eternal glory He has prepared for us, to be like the holy men and women, the holy saints who have gone before us to the eternal glory of God. Amen.

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