"This is My Son, the Beloved: listen to Him!" [Mk. 9:7] What powerful words! In these few words, God the Father commands each and everyone of us to follow the Lord Jesus.
Welcome my brothers and sisters in Christ to today's celebration of the Holy Mass that commemorates the "Transfiguration of the Lord." May the grace of God kindle your hearts as you listen to the message of this special feast that echoes the glory that awaits the children of the Lord in the eternal Kingdom of Heaven.
Today's First Reading from the Book of Daniels [Dan. 7:9-10, 13-4] is prophetic in nature. Many of the words that are found in this book are paraphrased in chapter one, and chapters four to six of the Book of Revelation.
The words written by Daniel are an account of his dreams and visions in the first year of King Belshazzar of Babylon. [Dan. 7:1] As some of you may be aware, in the days of the Old Testament, God frequently used dreams as a means of communication to reveal to the worldly mind of the person the knowledge of what his spirit had seen or heard during prophetic dreams and visions. In this Bible passage, the spiritual experience of Daniel revealed the coming of the Messiah who would be given dominion and glory and kingship.
As we have heard, the vision of Daniel begins to unravel itself with the Ancient One taking His Throne. Here, the Ancient One is symbolic of God the Father. It is important to remember at this point that Daniel was talking about the Blessed Trinity when such knowledge had not yet been revealed to the world.
To the best of his human ability of describing spiritual things in worldly terms, Daniel perceived the clothing of God as being as white as snow and His hair as pure wool. [Dan. 7:9; Rev. 1:14] What Daniel was describing was the fact that God, the heavenly beings and the surrounding all shined like a brilliant white light. The Holy Bible teaches us that "God is Light." [1 Jn. 1:5; 1 Pet. 2:9] "And the city, (His Kingdom), has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light..." [Rev. 21:23] "Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever." [Dan. 12:3]
Try to imagine this, walking in the midst of extremely brilliant light while being able to perceive the surrounding without experiencing pain to your eyes. Is it not difficult? If some of you have been surrounded by floodlights while visiting a photographer or while on a stage, you will recall the brilliance of the lights, how you were sweating, and how your eyes were weakened. In Heaven, it is different. While the light of God is brighter than a thousand suns, in spiritual form, we will not feel any heat, nor will our eyes be weakened. For we will not be restricted to the human weaknesses of our physical bodies.
Daniel continued by explaining that the Throne of God was like fiery flames. A stream of fire issued and flowed from the presence of God. [Dan. 9:7; Rev. 4:5] An endless number of angelic beings served God, ten thousands times ten thousands. [Dan. 7:10; Rev. 5:11] In this superb gathering of all of God's creations, the court sat in judgment and the books were opened. [Dan. 7:10]
At that moment, Daniel "saw one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven. And he came to the Ancient One and was presented before him." [Dan. 7:13; Rev. 5:16]
At this point, "to Him," the Lord Jesus, "was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and His kingship is one that shall never be destroyed." [Dan. 7:14; Rev. 4:11, 5:12-3]
To have a spiritual understanding of what this passage of Scripture is telling us, it is necessary to remember that God the Father is of a formless nature. All Biblical references to His Divine manifestations are as dreams, visions, voices, or a burning bush as Moses experienced.
In this reading, God the Father is perceived as a brilliant light, a light that is without form. In today's First Reading, God the Father reveals His incarnation through Jesus Christ who resurrected in His glorified spiritual form. All power, glory and honour was given to Jesus because He is God manifested in His visible glorified form. As Jesus said, "The Father and I are One." [Jn. 10:30] "Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father." [Jn. 14:9] Before the coming of Jesus, even in Heaven, no one had ever seen God. What the angels were witnessing was a fiery Throne. Now that Jesus had been revealed as the Messiah, the Son of God and the sacrificial Lamb, His was the everlasting dominion as the King of kings.
Today's alternate Reading revealed the fulfillment of the prophecy of Daniel. Peter told the faithful that the disciples were not following cleverly devised myths when they preached the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He, James and John had been eyewitnesses to the majestic glory of the Lord Jesus when He was transfigured before them, His clothes becoming dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. At that moment, Elijah and Moses appeared.
In his preaching, Peter was convinced beyond any doubt that Jesus had received honour and glory from God the Father. He had heard God the Father say, "This is My Son, My Beloved, with whom I am well pleased." [2 Pet. 1:17] "Listen to Him!" [Mk. 9:7] Because of his personal presence on the high mountain during this majestic event, the prophetic message of Daniels was more fully confirmed. It was not hearsay. Peter saw and heard what he was reporting to the others.
Condemning the false prophecies of those days, Peter commanded those who had been converted to Christianity to pay attention to what he was saying. They should be as lamps shining in the dark place. In a land where false messiahs flourished, Christians were persecuted and killed, the elders of God's people of the Old Testament were opposing the teachings of Jesus, etc... Those who were converted were encouraged to persevere in their living faith in Christ as lights in the world until the final day of earth when Jesus, the Morning Star, shall return to judge the living and the dead. The love of Jesus should progressively grow in their hearts in the hope of the reward that awaits them.
What was the purpose of the Transfiguration of the Lord Jesus on the high mountain? Why did this event take place in the presence of Peter, James and John?
The Transfiguration of the Lord Jesus on the high mountain before these witnesses was an affirmation to them as writers of the Holy Bible that Jesus was God. He was the awaited Messiah. He had been chosen by God the Father to rule as the King of kings over the eternal Kingdom. To Him was given all power, glory and honours.
Over and above this, the Transfiguration of the Lord Jesus was a reflection of the fullness of the glory that awaits the resurrected bodies of those who persevere in their living faith. "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet, we will not all die, but we will all be changed. The trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed." [1 Cor. 15:51-2]
"Christ is the first fruits of those who have died." [1 Cor. 15:20] "For those whom God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son in order that He might be the firstborn with a large family." [Rom. 8:29]
My brothers and sisters in Christ, God the Father said, "This is My Son, the Beloved: listen to Him!" These Words represent today's message to each and everyone of us! Through our obedience to God as lights in the darkness of this world, we are assured through Christ that by following in His footsteps, we will be transformed into eternal glorious beings of light. This week, let us reflect upon this! Are we walking as lights in the world? Do we want to be eternal glorious beings of light as shining stars in the Kingdom of God? Let each and everyone of us listen to our hearts, and if necessary, amend our lives accordingly so we may become sons and daughters of the Almighty Lord God!