Transfiguration Sunday, Cycle A
August 5/6, 2023
Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14; 2 Peter 1:16-19; Matthew 17:1-9
What glory there is in our hope! Hope will bring us to future glory. Our hope is in the cross of Christ.
In today’s Gospel, we hear of Christ’s glory as he is transfigured before the apostles Peter, John and James giving them a glimpse of what lay on the other side of the Cross, giving them hope, a hope that would sustain them when confronted with the suffering of Christ on his Cross on Good Friday.
There are three theological virtues given to us by God at baptism: Faith, hope, and love. Allow me to use an image to describe them, i.e., a ship on an open stormy sea. Faith is the ship. It is what protects us, and gives us shape and buoyancy. As long as we have faith, we won’t sink. Love is the destination. Hope is the driving force, the wind in our sails propelling us through the rough waters and the deep seas of life. We are carried by hope toward the glory of Jesus’ resurrection which we too will share.
Pope John Paul I, the Pope who reigned for only 33 days in 1978 and with whom we who lived in Rome during those days, and were able to speak to him, fondly called Papa Luciani, once wrote in his book Illustrissimi that “We are the amazement of God”. He noted that some have said that God is not amazed by our faith because God has left so many signs of his presence even in the natural world let alone in our hearts and in the history of mankind that any reasonable person cannot help but believe; nor is God amazed by our love, for he has given us. All of us, hearts of flesh, not of stone, and so are made out of love and for love, so we cannot help but love. But hope, John Paul I said, God is amazed by our hope. We are the amazement of God because of our hope.
The medieval poet Dante said that hope is “a waiting with certitude.” Hope is waiting, rooted in the goodness of God, and in the certitude of future glory.
Any of us who have live for a length of time have seen the face of death. We have seen the Cross. We have had our bumps and bruises and injuries. We’ve been through many difficult times; we know life is at times quite ugly. Suffering comes with the territory. What sustains us and drives us through the storms, the setbacks, the sufferings, and the ugliness of life?
Jesus gave Peter, James, and John the gift of hope when he was transfigured before them on Mount Tabor, when he revealed to them his divinity. He did it so their faith would not waiver, their love for him not falter, and the hope of the resurrection would not be extinguished when they would see him crucified, dead on the Cross, and placed in the tomb. Jesus gives us the same faith, love, and yes hope, when we read of the Transfiguration. It is the hope of a future transfiguration for us all that drives us forward toward our destination, the “New Jerusalem” as the Scriptures say, toward heaven, toward glory with Jesus and all the saints, toward a future resurrection, and toward Divine Love for all eternity.
Our First Reading today describes God’s power to transform all things in Jesus Christ. It gives us hope that even when life seems more like Calvary than Easter, Jesus conquers all things and his glory will be ours someday if we remain faithful in love.
St. Peter in today’s Second Reading tells us our hope is founded on eyewitnesses to the Transfiguration of Jesus, to his majesty, honor and glory. He reminds us to do well by being attentive to what he himself witnessed.
In our Gospel, Jesus clearly shows us that like him, we too will someday be transfigured and he strengthens us to see in the Cross the hope of future glory so we do not become discouraged.
The Transfiguration gives us hope, even today, that our bodies will be transfigured also. That through our crosses we will enter into glory.
Do you know what the difference between Judas Iscariot and Peter was? Peter had hope. Judas despaired. Peter lived. Judas ended his life. Let us be like Peter. Let us live in hope, not despair. Let us choose life not death.
When life gets tough, cling to hope. When you struggle in life, live in hope. When looking at the Cross, see there the hope of all mankind!
Jesus knew there was no detour around the Cross – for him or for us. He knew that the Cross was the only route to our destination, that it was the bridge to glory.
Hope is what drives us down that road and across the sea toward:
The glory that will be ours. The glory of the Resurrection. The glory of the Transfiguration. What glory there is in our hope! We are the amazement of God!