The following sermon relates to the Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew Ch.17 v. 1-9), which this year was celebrated on the 6th August.
- Giovanni Bellini c1490.
- Giovanni Bellini c1490.
on Mount Tabor, which is near the town of Nazareth, between the
Mediterranean Sea and the Lake of Gennesaret.
and in a solitary place, and in the presence of His three Apostles.
are especially for those who, by their virtues, raise themselves above
all earthly things; who retire into solitude, and flee from the distractions and
from the cares of the world.
Now St. Peter represents those who are steadfast in their faith;
St. James those who control their passions;
and St. John the chaste and pure.
So one could imagine that Jesus selected these three apostles to enjoy so great a privilege in order that we might hope to receive His special favours if we are firm in our faith like St. Peter; if we overcome our passions like St. James; and if we are pure in mind and body like St. John.
Jesus showed Himself in His glory which was of course normal for Him, but which during the rest of His Life, was hidden by His Humanity; and in this way He proved His Divinity.
He did so to strengthen these Apostles and to sustain their faith when they would later see Him in humiliation and in suffering.
Also, He wanted by His Transfiguration, to encourage them and all future Christians, to suffer voluntarily the trials of the apostleship and of observing the law, by letting them see a glimpse of that consolation which they would enjoy in the vision of God in Heaven.
But why did He cause ‘Moses and Elias’ to appear?
Moses was the promulgator of the Law which God gave him on Mount Sinai; and Elias was considered by all as the Prince of the Prophets.
The Mosaic law prepared the way for the promised Messiah, and all the sacrifices prescribed by the Old Law were only figures of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
All the predictions of the prophets pointed to Jesus Christ, and so we see why Our Lord caused Moses and Elias, and not others, to appear.
Then we see that St. Peter was so affected by the magnificence of the vision, and the joy of soul, that he desired nothing more, and thought it good to remain there forever.
And that was the effect of only a single ray of the glory of Christ on earth!
If that already could cause such profound emotions in St. Peter, what will our joy be when at the resurrection we shall arise immortal and see God in the fulness of His Majesty, sitting at the right hand of His Father amid the splendour of the saints?
The bright cloud during the Transfiguration, manifested the most Blessed Trinity, just as in the Baptism of Christ.
The Eternal Father spoke there; the Divine Word was present in the person of Christ; and the Holy Ghost appeared in the semblance of a ‘bright cloud’, as He appeared in the form of a ‘dove’ at the baptism of Christ.
While Jesus was transfigured, a voice came from a bright cloud which was the voice of the Eternal Father; for He alone could say, “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased, hear ye Him.”
‘This is My beloved Son,
not adopted, but My own,
not created, but generated;
this is My Son, by Whom all things were made,
in Him, I am well pleased.
Whose words, bear witness of Me,
Whose humility, glorifies Me.
Hear ye Him, because He is the Truth, and the Way.
He is my wisdom, He, Who was foretold by the prophets,
And Who redeemed the world by His blood.
He opens the way to heaven
And by His Cross gives us the means
To enter the kingdom of heaven.’
One can wonder why Our Redeemer forbade the apostles
to speak of what they had seen until after His resurrection?
That nobody would have believed it, and one
Would have been scandalised at seeing
Our Lord so utterly humiliated in the time
of His Passion after having manifested such
great power and glory'.
The proper time then to publish such a wonderful event
was after the Resurrection, for then those who saw Him
raised from the dead could have no difficulty in
acknowledging Him to be the true God, and able to
transfigure Himself as He did, on Mount Tabor.
granted to the three apostles alone, and Our Lord
forbade them to speak of it, probably that they might
learn to hide from others the special favours they had
received, in order not to expose themselves
to vainglory, and perhaps to the envy of others.
special graces we receive, to avoid that we become vain.
And correspond with them as well as we can,
so that we save our soul
and the souls of others. Amen.