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The Transfiguration: Last Sunday's Sermon

The Gospel

Matthew 17:1-9

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then 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.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

The Sermon

This is the last Sunday of Epiphany and we end it with a bang. Jesus and a select group of followers go up on the mountain and Jesus becomes dazzling white and he is suddenly talking to Moses and Elijah. Then it gets even better. God speaks from a cloud saying, “This is my Son, My Beloved, with him I am well pleased. Listen to Him.”

If I had been one of the disciples standing there, you could have knocked me over with a feather. Jesus gives these people an incredible vision and then says, “don't tell anyone about this.” We do not know why he said that. If only he had said, “don't tell anyone because....” it certainly would have been easier for all of us millions of followers who have wondered for the last two thousand years why Jesus made them wait.

We know there is a good deal of symbolism in this meeting between Jesus, Moses and Elijah. To the people of Israel, Moses symbolized the law and Elijah stood for the prophets. So, what did Jesus represent? All we know for certain is the event itself and it is up to us to speculate from there. In the gospel lesson from a few weeks ago Jesus told us his mission was to fulfill the law. Chapter four of Luke relates Jesus' confirmation that he was to fulfill the words of the prophet Isaiah.

Jesus has told us time and again that obeying the letter of the law is meaningless unless you obey the law for the right reasons. What you do must be done with love for your God and your neighbor. That is it and maybe that is why the Transfiguration took place. God of course punctuates the whole meeting by telling the disciples to really listen to what Jesus had to say. So, community of believers, when you pray and reflect on Christ’s holy words I urge you to listen. God speaks to us in the most subtle ways and we just have to be ready to hear Him, really hear him!

We, as followers of Jesus do not have the luxury of miraculous events. We have to rely on faith that these things actually took place. Jesus said, “blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” As for me I believe. I believe all of the events, his walking on water, the turning water into wine, his raising Lazarus from the grave. I believe they really happened but what inspires me words are Jesus's words. Jesus gave me a framework for living my life.

We are about to enter the lenten season. It is a time of penance and reflection. This lent lets all open our hearts to Jesus' message of the good news and we all follow Him in the way, the path toward a closer relationship to God.

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