Transfigured To Be The Light
“Transfigured To Be The Light”
Archbishop Loren Thomas Hines
Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time
August 6, 2017
Readings: Exodus 34:29-35, Psalm 99
2 Peter 1:13-21
The Feast of Transfiguration is not just an event that took place in the life of Christ, but it also tells us that in our own lives there should be that light that shines so that the world is drawn to Christ. The reading from Exodus about Moses says that the reason his face shone like light was so that the people would be drawn to God. God has commissioned us to draw people to Him by showing through our lives how to live the life that God has given us. Christ came because we were failing and didn’t know our way. God sent Him as flesh like us so He could show us what this human life is all about – that the flesh is not weak and a failure but is sacred because it comes from God. He created this body to manifest the very character and life of God. We were created in the image and likeness of God, not in the image and likeness of man, because man didn’t exist apart from God. It’s the life God gave us that should shine forth as a witness to the world of His greatness, power and ability; of His love, compassion and forgiveness. When we fail and make mistakes, we feel guilty and condemn ourselves. But God forgives and restores us and when He does, we should be a light to the world, showing the love and compassion of God and telling people of His covenant with us, that He will never leave us nor forsake us. It’s amazing how we carry with us that condemnation; the enemy doesn’t have to condemn us because we do well on our own. We see failure and defeat and put ourselves down and say we can’t do it, when Scripture tells us that all things are possible.
When Moses came down from talking to God, his face shone. He brought with him the commandments of God to His people to give them hope. Israel at that point had rebelled against God but God never stopped loving them. 2 Corinthians 3:7a “But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved in stones, came with glory….” When Moses came down with Ten Commandments, his face shone but the law brought death. It was not really what God wanted for man but He wanted to redeem man so He gave them the law; but the law brought death. As we were coming here, we saw a sign that says “Left Turn Only”, but many cars were coming thru it. There are signs that say “PUBs, PUVs, No Pick Up of Passengers”, yet the spot is so crowded with buses and jeepneys stopping to pick up passengers that you can’t get through. Instead of bringing order, laws seem to cause people to violate them. A Mom would tell her child he can’t have a cookie till after dinner but the minute Mom turns her back, the child takes a cookie. If we’re told we’re not allowed to do something, we go ahead and do it. This is rebellion. The commandments were of death, not life. In the New Testament there are very few places where we’re told we can’t do this or that because the New Testament show God’s grace, mercy, compassion and restoration. God gave us life and this life should be flowing out of us in abundance.
2 Corinthians 3:7b “….so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was.” Everything was failing when Moses came down the mountain with the Ten Commandments, but he came with the glory of God because he had spoken with God. He had been with God and God caused His glory to shine upon him. 2 Corinthians 3:8 “How will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory?” This is our hope. We are the glory of God and we should be shining with a message of hope for the world. Sadly, we have not done this. We have been raised in the law, being told what we can’t do and what we must do, bringing us to bondage and slavery. Jesus said that He came, not to do away with the law but to fulfill it. He put the law into our hearts so that we obey it, not because we have to but because we want to. Such change was given when we see Jesus in the Mount of Transfiguration. Up until that time, He had spent His time as flesh to show us what we are. He lived out what God created us to be – the image and likeness of God. But when He went to the Mount of Transfiguration, God told the apostles who were present, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!” Up until that time, people saw Jesus only as a man with special abilities and not as being God. Yes, when Jesus was baptized, God said, “This is My Son”, but not many heard that. Now God was letting it be known to the three apostles who were with Jesus that He was God’s Son and that from then on, things were going to be different. The appearance of His face became different and His clothing became white and gleaming, a symbol of divinity. He was being robed in righteousness as a divine being because He had a task which required strength and ability that comes from God. In the Transfiguration, He was transformed from just flesh to a man of divinity – the Son of God. Prior to this, He was identified as the Son of Man; now comes a new identity for Christ: the Son of God (“This is My Son”). This should encourage us to realize who we are and what our commission from God is: to be a light in the world. Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world”, but then He turned around and said we are the light of the world. Are we showing the world the way? Are we lighting the path? Are we being a lamp to people’s feet, showing them the way to accomplishing greatness? Are we being the Church? Are we standing firm in being the light that we should be? The evidence of our failure is all around us. The governments of the world are not supporting Christianity but are giving favors to others, because we have been a source of condemnation. We have pointed our fingers, even at each other – the Catholics condemning the Protestants and vice versa, and other Christian groups condemning fellow Christians. We’ve shown division, condemnation, accusation and judgment, instead of being the light that gives hope to people and the assurance that God loves them and they have no reason to be insecure. It doesn’t matter if man doesn’t love us because God does.
Have we tried to understand God’s covenant and commitment to us? Do we see Him as the Creator of heaven and earth? He created everything; nothing exists that He didn’t create. If He did, will He not take care of our “little” needs and problems? If He can split the Red Sea to let His people walk across on dry land, doesn’t that speak of His might and power? Will He not open the door for us, bring us hope when there’s despair and destruction? Why can’t we see the hope that is ours? Why do we only see the problems and the things that come against us? When we were going to the airport several weeks ago, we had a blow up in the car and we didn’t have a spare tire. We had to go back home to get the truck, but instead of being late for our flight, we got in early. While we were gone, the washing machine broke down. It seemed like the troubles came one after another, but God gives us hope and the ability to conquer and overcome. These things didn’t stop us. They may try to pull us down but they don’t stop us from being what God intends us to be. Why do we not see this instead of allowing the small problems become big in our minds that we’re paralyzed, and we cry when God’s love is greater than anything that may come against us? Even if the enemy brings sickness to us, God is our Healer. In Brussels, a man undergoing chemo left the hospital to attend the convocation. When he came in, he was barely able to move; he was panting and huffing. After he was prayed for, he became vibrant and the weakness just disappeared. You could see it in his countenance, in the way he responded. They said his cancer was at a late stage but that didn’t stop him. He believed in God and became a light.
God is so powerful that He will not fail us. He brings into our lives a shining light, as in a dark place. God puts us in the middle of darkness because there we can shine brighter. Christ came into a world filled with failure and defeat, but He came in the midst of that to be a light, to show man how to live out God’s provision and light. Sometimes we find ourselves in the same situation and we ask why. We are in the midst of darkness to be a light so others may have an opportunity to know the greatness of God. Transfiguration – when Christ came into our lives, we were transformed. His Spirit within us comes forth and quickens our mortal flesh to life. This gives us the ability to rise up and let others see how great God is. When we walk in the midst of darkness, we can sense the need around us and we can speak the words which break the darkness. 2 Peter 1:19 “….to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.” That’s our task, our ministry on earth – to be like Christ transfigured, being a light for others in the midst of darkness, being the answer to their needs, lifting them up and giving words of encouragement. They need words that will lift them up: “God loves you”. They don’t need you to tell them that you feel sorry for them.
As we look at the Transfiguration of Christ, we see the reaction of the apostles. They didn’t understand what was going on. When Peter said, “Let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses and one for Elijah”, he wasn’t talking about building temples. In the past, I thought that Peter was talking about building monuments. No, he was talking about the Jewish tradition in the Feast of Booths where they set up booths which were a symbol of the Kingdom. They built booths so they could celebrate the feast together with God. Peter, John and James saw Christ’s transfiguration as something great and awesome. There were Moses and Elijah who died many years ago and yet they were there with them. The Feast of Tabernacles or Booths was a symbol of the Kingdom. The people would set themselves apart from everything in the world and live in booths so that they could see Christ and the goodness of God and His work in their lives. God tells us everyday how great His love is for us and we need to let this be seen in our lives. God won’t fail us. We may have problems and things may fall apart but God will restore even greater and He will not fail to be there for us. Sometimes when we’re in the middle of these things we feel sorry for ourselves, but it’s an opportunity for us to believe that God will see us through. He will not fail us nor forsake us. So as we celebrate the Feast of Transfiguration, we are reminded of what Christ said, that the things He did we shall also do and even greater. We are to be the light, showing people that even in the midst of darkness, we have hope. We’re not in despair; we’re neither anxious nor fearful because God is with us. It may be tough at times, but it’s only because our faith is being tested to make us stronger, so that the next time we face something similar, we can overcome. God is with us in the midst of the fiery furnace. He walks with us on water. With Him all things are possible.
Today as we celebrate the Feast of Transfiguration, it’s not only Christ who is transfigured but also us. We should let God’s glory be seen in our lives. Peter said, “….we were witnesses of His majesty”. Let it also be for us as we celebrate this feast in the midst of Ordinary Time. That the feast comes in Ordinary Time is telling us that we are to be the light of the world; God calls us to be so. We’re to bring hope to people who are in despair. Let’s shine forth the light of God and give Him glory.