Tuesday of Trinity 19 – Matthew 17:1-13

| October 27, 2014 | 0 Comments More

The TransfigurationMatthew 17:1-13

All of the life of Christ is one piece, like the tunic which He wore to His death and for which the soldiers cast lots.  His Transfiguration is therefore of a piece with His Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection.

In the Incarnation, when God was made man, the glory of the Lord, the glory of Jesus, was revealed.  We saw it with the angels and the shepherds and, later, the wise men.  The glory of the Lord shone through all of Jesus’ public ministry, in his preaching, teaching, and healing, and here in the Transfiguration, for one brief moment, we see Him in all His glory.

And then it’s back on the road to Calvary and the Cross.  The Transfiguration is a foretaste of the glory to come, but which will come only after the Cross.  At the Cross, the glory of the Father in redeeming mankind was revealed, made more clear and glorious to all by the Resurrection.

In the Transfiguration, we, along with Peter, James, and John, see, however briefly, the glory of Jesus.  This is who He really is, and we are privileged to see it for this brief, shining moment.

What strikes me today, like a brief but brilliant bolt of lightning, is that the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ is also my own transfiguration and the transfiguration of the human race and, indeed, the cosmos!  God is all-glorious, whether I see Him or not.  His glory is simply who He is: I AM.  And yet He’s invited me to be a witness to, and even a participant in, His glory.

It would be all fine and good that God has revealed Himself in all His glory, but what good would that be if we were still in our sins?  What good would it be to see the true God in an unmistakable, almost blinding way, only to have Him return to heaven and strand us, still rotting and decaying in our sins?

This is why the Transfiguration must lead to the Cross and the Cross to the Resurrection.  And we participate in each of these through Jesus Christ.

This means that we, like Jesus, must also be transfigured.  The Greek word used for transfiguration is metamorphao, from which we get our word “metamorphosis.”  The change God effects in us is indeed a metamorphosis, only even greater than that of a caterpillar to a butterfly.  In fact, the metamorphosis in us is, as it was for Christ, only a completed revelation of what God has already done for us.

The exact nature of this Transfiguration which God takes us through is often misunderstood.  Sometimes, for example, our conception of heaven is seriously messed up!  We view it as something totally different from earth, something superhuman to the point of incomprehensibility.  Therefore, we can’t think much about it, and it doesn’t penetrate into our earthly lives.  Because it’s entirely future, it has little relevance to us or little impact on our lives.

But in Matthew 16:28, the verse right before the passage about the Transfiguration, Jesus says that some of the disciples will see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.  His kingdom, therefore, must be present now.

The Transfiguration follows immediately after this; it is the demonstration that the Kingdom of Heaven is here now.  I find hope in this, and glory.  It cures me of my malaise that is induced by thinking sometimes that Jesus is here with me less now than at the Transfiguration.

Jesus is here more than ever before: His kingdom is growing progressively and steadily, and it is progressively being revealed to all men.  The Kingdom of Heaven is here now, and it is within each one of us because Christ is in us and His rule extends to us, who are His body.

So this process of Transfiguration in men has already begun, and we are already in the process of being revealed as who we truly are.

But glory doesn’t come to us totally and at once.  First, there is the suffering of this earth.  We see through a glass darkly the fullness of things to come.  But as with Jesus (and we must always look to Him for our example) we know that after the suffering there is glory to come: the same glory which Jesus displayed at the Mount of Transfiguration is the same glory He is progressively displaying in us.

We too will be manifested as sons and daughters of the light: slowly and partially here in this present life and finally and dramatically in the life to come.  “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).

The trick is in looking for those moments of transfiguration in this life, in which God reveals Himself to us as He will in heaven and in looking for those moments in which we are transfigured, however, briefly, into what we shall one day be.

When you look at yourself, what do you see?  Do you see a weak or aging or balding or expanding body?  Do you see a terrible sinner or merely an average, ordinary human?  Or do you see a new creature, redeemed and being transformed into the likeness of the Son of God?

Is your daily life a random collection moments of experience that just seem to happen one day after another, or are your moments infused with the anticipation of seeing and being with God in whatever you’re doing at this very second?

When you look at the church, what do you see?  Do you see only the shallowness or faddishness or sad divisions that mark parts of the church?  Or do you see the Body of Christ filled with the glory of God, the New Jerusalem that has descended from heaven?

In this life, we can’t live on the Mount of Transfiguration 24/7.  It just isn’t going to happen.  But you might be amazed where you might find this Mount in this life, if you seek the One who dwells there.  And when you do find yourself there, in the presence of Moses and Elijah, and Peter, James, and John, remember who you really are: you are one transfigured by Jesus Christ!

Prayer:  Father, thank You for making me one of your children and translating me from the kingdom of darkness into Your glorious kingdom of light!  Show Yourself to me today that I might behold Your glory, and in Your light see myself.  Protect me from the Evil One and the false images of Your holy ones that he seeks to plant inside me.  Today, let me see You as you are that I may be like You.  Amen. 

Points for Meditation:

  1. What moments of transfiguration have you experienced before?
  2. Close your eyes and probe your heart. How do you see yourself? 

Resolution:  I resolve to meditate today on who Jesus Christ has made me to be and to look for moments of transfiguration today. 

© 2014 Fr. Charles Erlandson

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Category: Give Us This Day

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