Matthew 17:1-9 Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus

In reading the chapters of the synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke preceding today’s reading all of which define God’s transfiguration of Jesus, a person can easily come to the conclusion that many of Jesus’ followers really didn’t know him. Some people, including some of the apostles believed that Jesus’ objective was to set up a physical kingdom here on earth by overthrowing the Roman government. Others, including some of Jesus family believed he was losing his mind and they even tried to abduct him at one of his rallies, and then others believed he was just one of the many iterant preachers who existed at that time. In order to remove much of the existing doubt and misunderstanding of who Jesus was, God orchestrated to have Jesus bring three of his closest associates, Peter, James and John to the Mount of Tabor and have them witness what the three synoptic gospels described as his transfiguration and the first thing he did was tell them specifically who Jesus was. God as well wanted to tell them what Jesus’ life and teachings were based on, in addition to telling them what they and everyone needs to do in order to be a part of God’s kingdom here on earth and as well God’s kingdom in heaven. That was quite an agenda! God answered all three of these needs in one short communication. First he clarified who Jesus was by telling them, “This is my dear Son and I am pleased with him”, that is, the Son of God. Then he clarified what Jesus’ life and teachings were based on by having Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus signifying that his teachings were based on the Jewish Laws and they were based on his fulfillment of what the Prophets had predicted. One of those predictions is contained in our first reading from the prophetic Book of Daniel. And the answer to the question what they needed to do to be a part of his Kingdom God here on earth as well as God’s Kingdom in heaven God said, “Listen to what he says.”

Wouldn’t that have been great to be there with Peter, James and John and witness Jesus’ transfiguration, that is, see Jesus in his glorified body for a short time until he was ready to leave the mountain. How does it read: “His face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.” These same words are used to describe God in today’s reading from the Book of Daniel.

That time has passed but our goal can still be to be with Jesus, in his glorified body, in heaven some day and be transfigured there as well. The way we can reach that goal is by transforming our lives into lives which are more pleasing to God by listening to Jesus, trusting God and having a good relationship with both God and with our neighbor. For each of us that means obedient response to the will of God, and having faith and trust in God’s promise like Abraham and Moses did. As Scripture tells us, Abraham trusted God and had a good relationship with him as well. Think of what he did. He showed his trust and faith in God. At 75 years of age, being rich and childless he moved his whole family and all their possessions to an unknown destination, based on the trust in God’s promise to make him the father of a great nation with descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky.

God has promised you and me heaven if we, like Abraham, trust in God’s promise and are obedient to his call. The call each of us receive at our Baptism isn’t anywhere close to Abraham’s call but by our Baptism we become Christians and God’s call is always for each of us to form or transform our lives into one which is closer to Jesus’s life. The Transformation/Transfiguration of Jesus was instantaneous but ours is a continual slow process but every day we have an opportunity to be more like Jesus.

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