Monday August 6, 2001 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Feast of the Transfiguration
Reading I (Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14) Reading II (2 Peter 1:16-19)
Gospel (St. Luke 9:28b-36)
We celebrate today the Feast of the Transfiguration. This was one of the most important feasts for the Fathers of the Church. They recognized this as being so important because it was a clear indication of Our Lord's divinity. Now, the amazing thing of this, of course, is that Jesus was divine from all eternity. He did not become God - He is God. And He never was not God. He is always God from all eternity and will always be God for the rest of eternity. But when He became man, He hid His divinity behind the humanity so that we were not able to see the divinity. On this one occasion He allowed that divinity to be demonstrated very clearly. It was a prefiguration of the Resurrection and it was a prefiguration to all of us of the glory to which God is calling us, as well: to be able to share in His glory and our bodies will take on a similar kind of transfiguration when they rise from the dead, they will glow.
When we see that description of the heavenly throne that Daniel saw, as he says: "I saw One like the Son of Man coming upon the clouds," that again, is the same thing. We see the glory of God: flames of fire shining around Him, and from where He sat there were rays coming forth. That is the glory of the divinity that Daniel is seeing. Then, he sees One like the Son of Man, who (as we have seen in Daniel before) is clearly Jesus, sent down to this earth. Again, we see that the divinity is hidden, even though He is presented before the Ancient One and all glory, dominion, and honor is His because He is God.
Yet, as we heard in the second reading, "we possess the prophetic message as something altogether reliable." We see this particular prophecy in the vision of Daniel having its fulfillment when One who is a Son of Man, who is also God with all glory and honor and dominion, would come down to earth, and hide His divinity behind our humanity. It is in that that He would do His work and glorify His Father. And He would require of us extraordinary faith to be able to look at Someone, who by appearance seems only to be one of ourselves; and yet, the essence is Somebody who is infinitely beyond us from all eternity, but became one of us so that we could become like Him. That is what He holds out for us.
So, that is the glory that we celebrate today: the glory of Our Lord being shown, even in His humanity; but also, the glory for ourselves as we look forward to our own resurrection, as we look forward to the fulfillment of the promises. If the prophetic message is something altogether reliable, how much more reliable is the word of Jesus Christ Himself. And that is what we have: the promises of the Lord Himself, as well as all the promises of the prophets of old. This is something that we can count on. It is something that we know will happen. If there was any doubt, He chose this one occasion in the entire course of His life to allow His true glory to be seen, to allow that radiance to shine through His humanity, to show to us the foretaste of the promise of what he has said will be ours in the resurrection.
Note: Father Altier does not write his homilies in advance, but relies solely upon the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.