Friday, 6 August 2021 : Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the great Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, remembering the moment when the Lord Jesus, Our Lord and Saviour, was revealed in all of His glory and splendour before His three closest disciples, Peter, James and John. The Lord Jesus brought them up to Mount Tabor to be witnesses of His glorification, as He revealed for the first time the true nature of His existence, as One Who not just a mere Man, but also fully Divine, as the Son of God, the Divine Word Incarnate.

The Lord revealed Himself before the three disciples to show them and to make them witnesses of the truth about Himself, which He had very carefully kept hidden most of the time. Many did not know Who the Lord truly was, and many thought that He was just a Prophet or Holy Man of God. Some others like many of the members of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law even doubted Him and questioned His authority and authenticity, and even accused Him of colluding with demons.

By revealing Himself to His disciples, which they later then revealed to others and written in the Scriptures, in an account for all of us to know the truth, therefore, the Lord had made Himself known to all so that everyone may see the Lord’s true intentions, by His coming into this world in fulfilling the Law and the various prophecies that had been made. Hence, we heard how the Lord met with Moses and Elijah on top of Mount Tabor, which is symbolic of the Law and the Prophets, that each of them represented.

Moses and Elijah were unique in that they were truly close to God, and both ended their earthly existence in manners unknown to us, as Moses was brought up to the Mount Nebo when he was about to die, and he died with the view of the land that the Israelites was to receive, at the end of their Exodus. Meanwhile the prophet Elijah was carried up into heaven on a flaming chariot in the full view of the prophet Elisha, his successor. Both Moses and Elijah therefore, were with God and as they came to meet up with the Lord, they symbolised the fulfilment of the Law, which Moses represented, having brought the Law of God to His people, and also the prophecies of the prophets, represented by Elijah, the greatest among the prophets of God.

These highlighted the Lord’s mission as He came to make the Law perfect and to make its full intentions and meaning known to us, as He taught His people and revealed to us through His Church. He Himself had said that He came not to destroy or override the Law, but to make it perfect and completely fulfilled, while mankind had erred in their interpretations and failed to recognise and appreciate the Law and its true purpose and significance. And His coming into this world also fulfilled the many prophecies that had been made about His coming, as the Lord came to save His people. The Lord has always been faithful to His Covenant, and He showed it to perfection in Christ, His Son.

But what is even more significant is what happened after the Transfiguration, as the Lord could have chosen to stay there in His glorious moment and majesty, just as Peter, His disciple had suggested, that they ought to stay there and to make tents to accommodate them on that mountain. The Lord then kindly rebuked His disciples, as His voice was heard, reaffirming yet again that Jesus was truly the Son of God and told them to listen to His words. The Lord returned to His original self, and then descended the mountain, to go to His Passion, suffering and death, which would then soon to come, facing His opponents and willingly embracing the weight and burden of the Cross.

How is all these significant to us, brothers and sisters in Christ? The Lord has shown us all that we are all called to holiness through Him and with Him. Just as the Lord Jesus, Who shared in our human nature and existence has been glorified, the Transfiguration reminds us and shows us of our glorified future, our renewed and blessed existence in God, should we remain faithful to Him and His commandments, obeying His Law and listening to Him. All of us are called to holiness, to be like the saints of God, all of whom were once sinners, but who abandoned and rejected their sinful ways and the path of evil for a new life in God.

But at the same time it does not mean that we are going to have instantaneous glory and joy, as we have to expect challenges and difficulties, and even sufferings and sorrows in our journey, just as the Lord endured through His Passion, His suffering and death, before His final triumph and glory in His Resurrection. We Who share in our humanity with Christ, have therefore shared in His Cross, and His suffering and in dying to our sins, and we shall also share in His glorious Resurrection, entering a new life with God in the end, for eternity.

What we all need to do now is to commit ourselves anew to a life that is in accordance with God and follow Him wholeheartedly from now on, if we have not yet done so. Are we willing to embrace this path, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we willing to seek Him with all of our might and strength, and strive to be exemplary in our lives, in giving our very best for the greater glory of God in all things? These are the things that we have been reminded and called to do as we enter into this celebration of the Lord’s most glorious Transfiguration, His exaltation and revelation to all of us.

Let us all seek to live a virtuous life in God, and look forward to our own glorious transformation and transfiguration in time to come, that all of us, holding firmly to our faith, will receive the fullness of God’s grace and blessings. May God be with us always, and may He, our Transfigured Lord, bless us all in our every efforts and good works, in our every faithful endeavours, always. Amen.

Friday, 6 August 2021 : Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 9 : 2-10

At that time, six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain. There, His appearance was changed before their eyes. Even His clothes shone, becoming as white as no bleach of this world could make them. Elijah and Moses appeared to them; the two were talking with Jesus.

Then Peter spoke and said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” For he did not know what to say; they were overcome with awe. But a cloud formed, covering them in a shadow, and from the cloud came a voice, “This is My Son, the Beloved : listen to Him!”

And suddenly, as they looked around, they no longer saw anyone except Jesus with them. As they came down the mountain, He ordered them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept this to themselves, although they discussed with one another what ‘to rise from the dead’ could mean.

Friday, 6 August 2021 : 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.

Friday, 6 August 2021 : 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.

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.

Sunday, 8 March 2020 : Second Sunday of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

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.

Tuesday, 6 August 2019 : Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the great feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, recalling the moment when the Lord Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, was revealed in all of His divine and heavenly glory on Mount Tabor before three of His Apostles, St. Peter, St. James and St. John. At that moment, the two greatest among the Lord’s servants from the time of the Old Testament, Moses and Elijah appeared at Mount Tabor and talked with the Lord Jesus.

This important moment of the Transfiguration is a very powerful and vivid revelation of the truth of God, in revealing before His people, albeit only the select few at first, what He was going to do to fulfil His Covenant and the promises He had made to His people throughout the ages. Through the Transfiguration, the three Apostles, as representatives of humanity, witnessed Who the Lord Jesus truly is, as a person fully God and fully Man united in His person.

At that moment, the Lord revealed a glimpse of His true heavenly glory, as the Divine Word of God, Incarnate in the flesh, fully and completely God as shown by the pure white and dazzling appearance of His Transfigured Self, while still remaining fully Man in the flesh. And through this same Person, through Jesus Christ, all of mankind were about to receive their salvation and liberation from the tyranny of sin and bondage to death.

In the Transfiguration we see in fact a prefigurement and revelation of what will happen to us all in the end, when we remain faithful and committed to the Lord, as He will glorify us and our whole existence, in the body and spirit to be glorified and exalted just as Christ has been glorified and exalted at Mount Tabor. All of us through the fulfilment of the Covenant of God have received the assurance from Him that we shall receive the fullness of God’s glorious inheritance.

Just as the Lord Jesus revealed His divinity that is united to His humanity, through the Transfiguration the Lord unites our humanity to His own humanity, and all of us who share in His humanity now receive the glory of our future existence with God. Essentially, we see in Christ the reflection of our own future glorious self, the true calling for us all mankind who have not been intended to live in sin and darkness, but in the fullness of light as God’s beloved children.

By our sins we have been made dirty, corrupted and unworthy, and sin is caused by our conscious rejection and refusal of God’s generous love. Sin has caused us to lose that glory which should have been ours from the beginning, the true nature of ourselves, and not the sinful and wicked selves we have now. But the Lord, through His Transfiguration, has shown us all that through Him, we can once again be wholesome as we have been intended to.

At the same time, through what happened in the Transfiguration, when the Lord Jesus met and talked with Moses and Elijah, the Lord also willingly revealed to His people about the mission which He has been sent into this world for, as the Saviour of all. Moses and Elijah were among two of the most important persona in the whole of the Old Testament and were counted among the ones closest to God, as His faithful servants.

Moses represented the Law which God had first revealed through him in the Books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, the collection of which made up the entirety of the Mosaic laws of Israel that were preserved through the many centuries after, centred on the Ten Commandments that God has also given at the same time. And Moses was also symbolic of God’s saving help and grace for His people, as He led His people out of Egypt from their slavery into freedom.

Meanwhile, Elijah was among the greatest of the many prophets of the Old Testament era, and he performed many good works and miracles for the Lord before His people, struggling against numerous challenges and obstacles in his prophetic ministry and journey. He proclaimed the truth of God and called the people to repent and turn away from their sins, to reject the pagan idols of Baal and other Canaanite false gods and embrace the Lord YHVH, their one and only true God.

He had to endure a lot of difficulties, on the run from his enemies that included the king and especially Jezebel the queen and many of the powerful men in the kingdom of Israel and the priesthood of Baal among many others. He had to strive alone against the four hundred and fifty priests of Baal as they contested at the Mount Carmel who the true God is, whether it was YHVH or Baal.

That these two servants of God appeared before the Lord Jesus at the moment of His Transfiguration served to reveal before us the mission of Our Lord and Saviour, Who like Moses has been sent to all of us, God’s people, to deliver us. But while the Israelites were delivered from the slavery under the Egyptians and their Pharaoh, through Christ all of us mankind have been delivered from the slavery under sin.

And like Elijah, the Lord proclaimed the salvation of God to His people, performing wonderful miracles and power to show the true extent of God’s love and mercy for His beloved people, calling on them to turn away from sin and to embrace God’s love fully, through the Law of God, first revealed through Moses and now, explained in its fullness by Christ Himself, to bring all of us closer to God.

Therefore, God has revealed before us today, through His glorious Transfiguration at Mount Tabor, what we all can become if we truly believe in Him and put our complete faith and trust in Him. He has come into this world to reveal His truth and wisdom to us, and to show us how we can find our way to reach the promised glory, true happiness and inheritance He has promised us in the Covenant He had made with us.

But we must then take note of the action of the Lord Jesus and that of His disciples in the latter part of today’s Gospel passage. The three disciples wanted to stay on in that place as it must indeed have felt so wonderful to be present in the plain view and experience of the Lord’s glory on that mountain. They wanted to make three tents for the Lord, Moses and Elijah each precisely because they wanted that blissful experience to remain with them.

However, the Lord reminded them to obey the will of God, and the Lord Jesus led them down the mountain, leaving the glorious moment of His Transfiguration and soon after, embracing the moment of His Passion, suffering and death, where He would lay down His life and perform the ultimate loving sacrifice on the Cross for our salvation. And this is a reminder to each and every one of us that we should be aware that being Christians, as followers of Our Lord, more often than not we will encounter sufferings and challenges as part of our lives.

But we must always keep up hope in the Lord, remembering that despite the challenges and sufferings we may have to endure, at the end, the ever loving and faithful God will glorify us and give us the fullness of our promised inheritance, and the Transfigured Body of Christ will also be ours as we who are worthy will be transfigured and glorified in the same way to enjoy forever God’s loving grace.

May the Lord continue to guide us on our journey and may He continue to bless us and our good works in our daily living so that each and every one of us may strive to be ever faithful despite the challenges and obstacles we may encounter in our daily living. Amen.