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Monday, August 7, 2017

Transfiguration: A Mirror of What You Can Become

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea

Transfiguration of the Lord, August 6, 2017
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Tucson, AZ

In today’s Gospel (Matt 17:1-9), Our Lord takes three of His disciples up a high mountain, and He transforms in front of their eyes! His face shines with the brilliance of the
sun. His garments become dazzlingly bright, and a bright cloud casts a shadow over them with a voice coming from the cloud that says, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him."

What is most important about today’s Gospel  is that we not only receive an image of the glory of Our Lord, but the Transfiguration reminds us who we are to become through the glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

When Our Lord is transfigured in His glory,  Peter wants to stay on top of the mountain. He is struck with awe. Peter sees Jesus speaking with Elijah and Moses. Elijah and Moses represent the law and the prophets of the Old Testament. The fullness of Divine Revelation is therefore right in Peter’s midst, the fulfilment of the law and the prophets is the New Covenant in Jesus Christ. 

Peter wants to build three tents. But Our Lord reminds Peter that this cannot be. No. They had to come down from the mountain so that Jesus could fulfil His mission to all of humanity by suffering on the cross and rising again.

My brothers and sisters, today’s Gospel passage teaches us Who Jesus is, and it reminds us who we are to become in Our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Son of God. He is the fulfillment of divine revelation.

As Christians, we become sons and daughters of God through Jesus Christ. The same light that emanated from Our Lord in His transfiguration is implanted into our hearts through our Baptism. Yet, Baptism is only the beginning. 

The mustard seed, the seed of grace given us in our Baptism will grow into what the largest
of all plants -- where the birds of the sky will  dwell in its branches (Matthew 13:32).

Our Lord had to accept His cross in order to save humanity from dying in sin. So we too, therefore, must accept the cross if we want to live in the fullness of Christ at the end of this age. We must die to the ways of this world that are not of God’s plan and live for the glory of the Kingdom that is to come.

In the Gospel just a couple of weeks ago we heard the parable of the wheat and the weeds. In this parable Our Lord says that at the final judgment that the wheat will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of our Heavenly Father.

God wants us to be His wheat! He wants us to live as one with Him for all eternity! Yet, if we want to live with God as His glorious sons and daughters then we must live our baptismal call today. 

Our knowledge of who we are as children of God needs to grow. We must pray often and receive the sacraments with a pure conscience.

When we live for Christ not only do our hearts change and become more alive in God, but even our physical appearances change. The light of God shines through our very selves. We have many saints in our Church who give us great witness to the light of Christ living within their physical bodies. Many saints are even depicted in art and statues as having halos. Other saints have been found to be incorrupt after their death which teaches us that divine intervention allows some human bodies to avoid the normal process of decomposition after death as a sign of their holiness.

On the other hand, when we live for our own selfish desires then the light of Christ within us fades. The more we live in the darkness of sin, the more our actions, our bodies, and our souls reflect this darkness. 

When we live in hatred or anger, then hatred and anger becomes a part of our very being. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we must keep our lives focused on the new life we have been given through Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Kingdom that is to come.
Today’s Gospel on the Transfiguration calls us to focus on the glory of our Christian life. Last week, Our Lord Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God as a treasure buried in a field. A person finding the treasure, goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Our Lord spoke these words because He wants us to put the Kingdom of God before everything in our lives!

Let us open our hearts to the glory of Christ revealed in today’s Gospel passage. Let us reflect on the light that each one of us has received in our Baptism, and let the light of Christ grow within us by living upright and moral lives so that we may live with Him for eternity in the glorious Kingdom that is to come. Amen.

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