Commentary on the Gospel of
Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration. The Gospel reading tells the story of this event in the life of Jesus. In the second reading, St. Peter states that this story is not a “cleverly devised myth.” He, with James and John, were eyewitnesses of what occurred on the mountain. They saw what happened. They heard the voice of God. This is why they had dedicated their lives to announcing “the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In the world I live in, what impresses me about this event is how Jesus comes in power. In the story we see the power of God coming as light through Jesus’ clothing and person. We see the Shekinah glory of God enveloping the disciples as a cloud, the same cloud that filled the temple at its dedication and caused everyone inside the building to flee. It was the same cloud that Moses entered when he spoke face to face with God - the same cloud in which his face became so bright that he had to wear a veil (mask?) so that people could look at him. Why such an emphasis on Jesus coming in power?
The first reading tells us why. To get the big picture, I encourage you to read all of Daniel chapter 7. Daniel had a dream. In the dream he saw four kingdoms. Each kingdom was erected by men who worshiped violence. These kingdoms crushed and trampled under their feet anything that stood in their way. Then we come to our reading. God had enough. The time for judgment on these kingdoms had come. God is described as the Ancient One. He takes his throne which is surrounded by fire and millions of attendants. The court was now in session. The books were opened. The arrogant words and deeds of these violent kingdoms were read. Sentence was passed and the death penalty for the worst of the kingdoms was administered.
Then the dream takes a dramatic turn. Suddenly, Daniel sees someone approaching God on the clouds of heaven. He looked like a Son of Man. He was presented to the Ancient One who gave him dominion, glory, and kingship. He ordained that all peoples, nations, and languages shall serve him. He is given everlasting dominion and a kingship that shall never be taken away or destroyed.
We believe and confess that the one like a Son of Man is none other than our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He has all power and authority in heaven and on earth. He has an everlasting kingdom. As the psalmist says, the Lord is king, the Most High over all the earth. By the grace of God, you and I can be part of his kingdom. But there is an important caveat: Jesus doesn’t wield his power to crush and dominate. As the psalmist makes clear, “justice and judgment are the foundation of his throne.” Or, as he says in the next verse, “The heavens proclaim his justice, and all peoples see his glory.”
How will the peoples see his glory if his disciples do not join the heavens and proclaim his justice? Peter, James, and John saw his power and glory and dedicated their lives to proclaiming his message of peace and justice for all. All people are welcome in this kingdom. All are treated with respect. From the least to the greatest, all are loved by God. There is judgment for those who withhold justice and trample others under their feet.
May we who call upon the name of Jesus and are filled with the power of the Holy Spirit given to us by the Ancient One use our energy, our gifts, and all of the power that Jesus gives us to bring the justice of God to those around us.
And may the peoples see his glory.