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Homily (Reflection) for the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (A) (06th August, 2017) on the Gospel and the Feast

Dan 7:9-10.13-14;
Ps 96:1-2.5-6.9 (R.vv. 1.9);
2Pt 1:16-19;
Matt 17:1-9.

The bible gives account of the Transfiguration of the Lord on the mountain, cf. Matt 17:1-8; Mk 9:2-8; Lk 9:28-36; 2Pt 1:16-18. In all the synoptic gospels, this took place shortly after Jesus first foretold His Passion, death, and resurrection. According to Tradition, it took place on Mount Tabor. This feast started in the East about fourth century and four centuries later, it spread to the West. Pope Callixtus III elevated the Transfiguration of the Lord to a Feast and extended it to the universal Church. He also established 6th August, the day the news of the defeat of the Turks at Belgrade by the Crusaders on 22nd July, 1456 reached Rome for its celebration. It also coincided with the day the first church that was built there in the fourth century was dedicated.
Topic: After Baptism.
Six days after Jesus foretold His Passion and death, He took with Him Peter, James, and John up a high mountain. The appearance of His face changed, and His clothes became dazzling white. Moses and Elijah appeared and discussed with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”. He was still speaking when a cloud overshadowed them and a voice heard from the cloud saying, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!”
Recall that after Jesus’ baptism, a voice came, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased” (Lk 3:22; cf. Matt 3:17; Mk 1:11). And today again during His transfiguration (the climax of His public ministry), these words were heard again.
At baptism, our sins were completely washed away, cf. Acts 22:16; Gal 3:27; 1Pt 3:21. We are born again as sons and daughters of God, cf. 2Cor 6:18; 1Cor 12:13. We were raised from death by the glory of the Father at baptism for us to walk in newness of life, cf. Rom 6:4; Col 2:12.
Those words that were heard after Jesus was baptised were also heard when we were baptized. However, an important question at this stage of our lives is whether those words can still be heard regarding you and me.
There is a story of a very pious elderly lady who while discussing her funeral mass with her priest said, “When they bury me, I want my old Bible in one hand and a fork in the other.”
“A fork? Why do you want to be buried with a fork?” asked the priest.
“I have been thinking about all of the church dinners and banquets that I attended through the years,” she explained. “One thing sticks in my mind. At those really nice get-togethers, when the meal was almost finished, a server would come by to collect the dirty dishes. I can hear the words now. Sometimes, at the best ones, somebody would lean over my shoulder and whisper, ‘You can keep your fork.’ And do you know what that meant? Dessert was coming! It didn’t mean a cup of Jell-O or pudding or even a dish of ice cream. You don’t need a fork for that. It meant the good stuff, like chocolate cake or cherry pie! When they told me I could keep my fork, I knew the best was yet to come! That’s exactly what I want people to talk about at my funeral. Oh, they can talk about all the good times we had together. That would be nice. But when they walk by my casket and look at my pretty blue dress, I want them to turn to one another and say, ‘Why the fork?’ I want you to tell them that I kept my fork because the best is yet to come![1]
During the transfiguration of Jesus, Peter who rebuked Him a few days ago wanted to remain on the mountain just because of the glimpse of His glory. What awaits the righteous cannot be imagined. Hence, Saint Paul quoted prophet Isaiah, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1Cor 2:9; cf. Is 64:3). However, one must keep his/her robe clean to be admitted or in the words of the pious elderly woman, one must keep his/her fork for the best, cf. Rev 7:14.
Bible Reading: Rom 6:1-13; Col 2:6-19; Rev 7:9-17.
Thought for today: Are you still God’s beloved?
Let us pray: Lord, restore us to the state we were when baptized – Amen.
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[1] Thomas, T. (2010). Spice up your homilies. Mumbai: St Pauls, pp. 135-136.

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