Saturday, August 6, 2011

Transfiguration of the Lord

Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14 / 2 Peter 1:16-19 / Matthew 17:1-9

It is hard to trust promises of beauty, power, and glory. Some such promises are obviously not to be believed. We know that we will not look like models merely because we wear the same underwear or use the same shampoo. We know we will not become instantly successful by driving the right sort of car or applying the right sort of makeup. Other promises, however, take a keener eye to find wanting. We see and hear advertisements, featuring real, ordinary people, who witness and attest incredible things: that they lost a great deal of weight while using a certain dietary supplement, that they shaped their body into a sleek and muscled form through a particular fitness program, that they achieved financial success in but a few months through a simple business strategy. Now, all of these stories may well be true, at least in the lives of these persons giving testimony, but nearly always there is a disclaimer which we need to be on the lookout to find, which says, "Results not typical; actual results may vary."

So, we may be timid and reluctant to trust in the promise offered us in the Transfiguration of the Lord. The promise itself is enticing, that God offers us not only a disembodied life with him in heaven, nor only to rise again in our mortal bodies, but that like Christ on Mt Tabor we will shine like the sun, full of radiance and majestic glory, and enjoy with Christ dominion, glory, and kingship, along with a beauty the world cannot now begin to conceive. This promise also comes with its own testimonies: the eyewitness of St Peter who, with James and John, witnessed the majesty of Christ transfigured, as well as the very voice of the Father coming from the cloud, proclaiming, "This is my beloved Son."

Yet, we have been disappointed by other promises, and we have learned to set our expectations low. How, then, do we sharpen our vision? How do we learn to see that, for this promise, there is no disheartening disclaimer?

In his letter, Peter teaches us the one way to hold true to the bright promise. We must, he reminds us, drink in the Scriptures daily, what he calls "the prophetic message that is altogether reliable." So long as we hear only the dark, gloomy, and confused voices of the world, our eyes will never catch a glimpse of the light of Mt Tabor. Only when we read the Bible attentively, faithfully, frequently, and with and open heart, will we train our vision to see not as the world sees, but to see as God sees. Only in the Scriptures will we see the truth of our neighbor and of ourselves, that for God there are no ordinary and insignificant people with ordinary and insignificant futures. In the glory of Jesus Christ transfigured, we are called to share in the beauty, power, and glory of Tabor, shining more than ten thousand suns.

This is the truth and beauty God offers us in his sacred Scriptures, a lamp shining in a dark place. Let us recommit ourselves to study his sacred Word in the darkness of our world, until day dawns and the morning star rises in our hearts.

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