Homilette for Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Feast of the Transfiguration

(Matthew 17:1-9)

In 1987, the first President George Bush sounded dismissive responding to a suggestion that he change focus from short to long-term objectives. With a phrase that has been much criticized, then Vice-President Bush reacted to the idea by saying, “Oh, the vision thing.” A hopeful vision, however, has carried different peoples through periods of suffering. African-Americans, for example, bore the often violent reciprocations to their quest for human dignity by “keep(ing) their eyes on the prize.” An often quoted proverb sums up the need for vision, “Without a vision, the people will perish” (Proverbs 29:18).

In the gospel today Jesus’ leading disciples see a vision of his resurrected glory. They shrink in awe as Jesus is transfigured from his usual visage to a heavenly figure. Together with the affirmation of Jesus’ favorable sonship by the voice from the cloud, the transfiguration assures the disciples of Jesus’ divine mission. This vision will sustain their faith in him as Jesus suffers crucifixion and then as they undergo persecution preaching his name.

It is critical for our salvation that we likewise keep in mind the vision of the transfiguration. Some people would leave Jesus as a wise and holy man to be admired. There is no doubt about his virtue. But Jesus, as the transfiguration demonstrates, is further the everlasting son of God to be followed to the end. As his unjust execution leads to a glorious resurrection, our suffering in communion with Jesus will serve as a gateway to eternal life.