If you speak about the glory and power of Christ, you must speak about the Cross.
On the Feast of the Transfigure the scriptures we proclaim have powerful imagery of the glory of God. The first reading is a vision that the prophet Danial had of the Ancient One sitting on his fiery throne and a thousands upon thousands
ministering to Him and a countless host before His feet, as the Son of Man comes before Him and receives dominion and glory. In the Gospel, Peter, James, and John fell to prostrate in fear before the vision of glory and the voice from the cloud declaring, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.” Even the less dramatic second reading was Peter himself saying that he heard this, that he himself heard a voice out of heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.” But all of this overwhelming and earthshaking experience of who God is in all His glory is shaped by the only thing that Jesus actually speaks to us in the gospel at the end of it all: “Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
That single and last command is not a side comment, it is the key to interpreting the account of the Transfiguration. The three apostles didn’t know what to say or do in response to what they saw. Peter tried to say something but the voice in the cloud cut him off while he was still speaking, and all three of them fell to the ground in fear only for Jesus to tell them to rise and not be afraid. What the three apostles didn’t have yet was the experience of the Cross and the Resurrection, the experience of salvation that utterly changes our relationship with God.
I think an example is the only way I can explain what I am trying to preach from my heart right now. Pretend for a moment that you have had no experience of Jesus; you are just a blank slate going about your life. Suddenly you stand before the one who created all that exists in the world around you, the one who made you yourself and knows exactly what He intended for you to be, the one who is infinite and literally beyond your ability to ever completely understand and grasp. You stand before the Ancient One on his fiery thrown with every person who has ever existed around you as servants to the court of the Creator. If you can try to imagine that it should be terrifying. It should be a heart stopping, paralyzing moment to stand in the presence of God, the Creator of all that is.
Now imagine that same thing, but knowing that very same God humbled Himself to walk alongside us, and went through the agony of the Cross and entered into death so that we could be free from death forever and never be separated from Him. What was should have froze us in terror before is now an experience that should bring us to tears of safety and protection, of mercy and love. If you speak about the glory and power of Christ, you must speak about the Cross.
I hope especially as you come forth to receive communion today that you can keep the reality of today’s feast in mind. We have been blessed with the knowledge of God in all His glory. What we receive here today, the sacrifice of the Cross made present, is what makes that knowledge of God the source of our peace. May we never forget who God has shown Himself to be in His Son.
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Homilies are meant to be heard, not read… and part of the Eucharistic liturgy, not words that stand alone. Please remember that no homily is written with this blog in mind.