Thursday, 6 August 2020 : Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we mark and celebrate the great Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, marking the moment when the Lord was transfigured and changed before three of His disciples at the summit of Mount Tabor in northern part of the land of Israel, and being present there in heavenly glory together with the servant of God, Moses, and with the prophet Elijah.

The word Transfiguration comes from the words ‘trans’ meaning change, and ‘figure’ means appearance and outlook of our body. That is why in this Feast we remember when the Lord Jesus was suddenly transformed before the witnesses, revealing His true nature as the Divine Son of God, shining forth from His humanity, unveiling that He was not just a Man, but more than a Man, He was also the great Son of God incarnate in the flesh.

At that moment of the Transfiguration, the Lord met with two of the greatest and most renowned figures from the Old Testament, namely Moses and the prophet Elijah. Moses was the leader of the people of Israel who led them all from the land of Egypt in the Exodus, bringing by God’s power, Ten Great Plagues and freed the people from their oppressors, leading them through the Red Sea and then leading them for forty years through the desert to the Promised Land.

Meanwhile, the prophet Elijah was perhaps the most remembered and active among the prophets of God. His many works and dedications were recorded throughout the Book of Kings and the Book of Chronicles, as the prophet laboured hard in his efforts to bring the people of the northern kingdom of Israel to return to God and abandon their sinful ways. He encountered many trials and difficulties during his ministry, facing persecution from the kings and the nobles, the pagan priests and many of the people who refused to believe in God.

Each of these magnificent servants of God symbolically represent the Law and the Prophets, Moses being the one who received the Law of God and the Ten Commandments, while the prophet Elijah was the epitome and representative of the many prophets and messengers of God. Their appearance on Mount Tabor before the Lord Jesus serve to highlight the fact that Jesus was indeed the perfect fulfilment of God’s Law and the promises that He had made through His prophets.

And it also highlighted how the Lord would also bring His truth to the people as He had done through the prophets, revealing to them the fullness of truth, by His teachings, complemented with the gift and wisdom of the Holy Spirit to the disciples and the Church. And He would also make a new Covenant with His people just as Moses had led the people in making the Covenant between God and them. Through the Lord Jesus, God would be reunited and reconciled with His people.

All of these were made possible because Christ was both fully Man and fully God, two distinct natures, Man and Divine but completely and inseparably united in the one Person of Jesus Christ, the Son of Man and Son of God. Through Him, Man would be reunited with God, by the establishment of the New Covenant and the fulfilment of the Law, on the moment of the Crucifixion, the ultimate and most loving sacrifice of the Lord on the Altar of His Cross.

The Lord revealed His divinity that day before the few witnesses, His disciples, St. Peter, St. James and St. John, as the precursor and prior revelation that through Him alone, mankind’s salvation would finally come from. He would suffer and be offered as a worthy sacrifice on the Altar of the Cross, as if He was just like any other Man, then His sacrifice and offering would have amounted to nothing. But the spilling of His divine Blood and the breaking of His divine Body became for us the source of redemption and eternal life.

And if He was just Divine without any shards of humanity, then His suffering would not be tangible, for it was by our shared humanity with Christ, that Christ united all of us to His suffering and death, that by the death of His Body, all of us are united to His death, and by His glorious Resurrection, all of us are brought into new life and risen to this new life and existence through Him and this unity we have with Him.

How have we been united with Him, then, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is by our baptism when we have received this unity with Christ, as we were immersed in the holy water of baptism, that we symbolically passed from death into life, from oppression and slavery into freedom, just as the Israelites have been freed from their slavery in Egypt by God through Moses, His servant as mentioned earlier. And all of us emerged into new life through our unity with Christ and His Church, receiving His Spirit and this gift of new life.

And the Lord’s Transfiguration is also symbolic of what we are going to experience, as we eventually will be reunited completely with God at the passing from this mortal existence and life, when we pass from this world into the world that is to come, the eternity of glory and happiness with God, no longer chained and troubled by sin and evil. The glorious Transfiguration of Christ is the revelation of what we will be, if we keep our lives holy and dedicated to God, as St. Paul said in his Epistle to the Corinthians, that ‘We will all not die, but we will all be transformed!’ and ‘those who have died, in the end of days, will be raised to live forever.’

That is why as we celebrate this great Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, we also reflect on the matter of our lives and how we ought to look forward to the life that we are to have in God. The Lord has shown us what we are to experience when we are glorified in body and soul, as we enter into the eternal kingdom of God. We look forward to this joyous and momentous occasion, but at the same time, we must also realise that if we are to rise in glory with Christ, we also must share in His death.

And as we have done at our baptism, when we reject sin and all of evil and its advances, we are reminded today that sin has been the great obstacle that lies in between us and God. As we continue to live our lives in this world, we are all called to die to ourselves, to die to our pride and ego, our greed and worldly desires, our attachments to worldly pleasures and all things that kept us away from reaching true holiness in God.

That is why, even though we have not yet attained the fullness of heavenly glory as shown to us by the Lord through His Transfiguration, but we ought to look forward to it, and prepare ourselves thoroughly by keeping ourselves holy and filled with faith and love for God, that when the time comes, we will be worthy to share in the true happiness and eternal glory in God. And the path forward for us will not be easy, yet we have to trust in God, for everything we do in God, will turn out good in the end.

Let the hope of the Lord’s Transfiguration fill us with hope for the future, that despite the plenty of challenges and trials we have to face in life, the various trials and difficulties that we have to endure, if we have faith in God, put our trust in Him and love Him with all of our hearts, then we will surely be blessed and received what He has promised us, as after all, He has given everything for us as He offered Himself as a worthy loving sacrifice on the Cross for us.

May Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord Whose glorious Transfiguration we remember today, help us in our journey of life that hopefully one day, we may share fully in His glorious kingdom, and in the New Covenant that He has made with each and every one of us. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 6 August 2020 : Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 17 : 1-9

At that time, six days after Jesus predicted His own death, He took with Him Peter and James and his brother John, and led them up a high mountain, where they were alone. Jesus’ appearance was changed before them : His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became bright as light. Just then Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Jesus.

Peter spoke and said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here. If You wish, I will make three tents : one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” Peter was still speaking, when a bright cloud covered them with its shadow, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is My Son, the Beloved, My Chosen One. Listen to Him.”

On hearing the voice, the disciples fell to the ground, full of fear. But Jesus came, touched them and said, “Stand up, do not be afraid.” When they raised their eyes, they no longer saw anyone except Jesus. And as they came down the mountain, Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone what they had just seen, until the Son of Man be raised from the dead.

Thursday, 6 August 2020 : Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 96 : 1-2, 5-6, 9

YHVH reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the distant islands be glad. Clouds and darkness surround Him; justice and right, are His throne.

The mountains melt like wax before YHVH, the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim His justice, all peoples see His glory.

For You are the Master of the universe, exalted far above all gods.

Thursday, 6 August 2020 : Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Daniel 7 : 9-10, 13-14

I looked and saw the following : Some thrones were set in place and One of Great Age took His seat. His robe was white, as snow, His hair, white as washed wool. His throne was flames of fire with wheels of blazing fire. A river of fire sprang forth and flowed before Him. Thousands upon thousands served Him and a countless multitude stood before Him.

Those in the tribunal took their seats and opened the book. I continued watching the nocturnal vision : One like a Son of Man came on the clouds of heaven. He faced the One of Great Age and was brought into His presence. Dominion, honour and kingship were given Him, and all the peoples and nations of every language served Him. His dominion is eternal and shall never pass away; His kingdom will never be destroyed.

Alternative reading

2 Peter 1 : 16-19

Indeed, what we taught you about the power, and the return of Christ Jesus our Lord, was not drawn from myths or formulated theories. We, ourselves, were eyewitnesses of His majesty, when He received glory and honour from God, the Father, when, from the magnificent glory, this most extraordinary word came upon Him : “This is My beloved Son, this is My Chosen One.”

We, ourselves, heard this voice from heaven, when we were with Him on the holy mountain. Therefore, we believe most firmly in the message of the prophets, which you should consider rightly, as a lamp shining in a dark place, until the break of day, when the Morning Star shines in your hearts.