The Feast of the Transfiguration
Sermon by Bishop Michael Hawkins
(The readings may be found here)
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
We were made in the image and likeness of God, by the Word and Spirit, and we are remade in that same image by the Word and the Spirit. We are being transfigured into that perfect image and likeness which is Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit refashions us, moulds and reforms us, into the likeness of Jesus Christ, in knowledge and love, which we reflect as we behold him.
The transfiguration is a celebration of the glory of God, but specifically of the human face of that glory in the person of Jesus Christ.
For God who commanded light to shine out of darkness hath shined in our hearts to give the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of his Son Jesus Christ.
But it is not only Jesus that we begin to see for who he truly is but ourselves and one another in him and through him. St. Paul talks about the difference between knowing someone after the flesh and this new, fuller and more precise Christian knowledge. He once knew Jesus so after the flesh, that is simply as a man, but he came to know him as the Lord and Son of God. And in that knowledge of Jesus, in that vision which only faith can see, we see ourselves and one another anew, as those made in the image and likeness of God, and we know ourselves the children of God and one another brothers and sisters in Christ, we recognize the glory of God in each other, as created and redeemed by him. And in every human being, no matter how far they have fallen, no matter how dulled the image, we recognize this created reflection of God and this potential to be like Jesus in the knowledge and love of God.
Now the Transfiguration was a rare experience, which belonged to just three of the twelve apostles among all Jesus’ disciples. Note that Jesus directs them not to share their religious experience, their personal vision of him, until he has died and rose again. You see, all such personal testimony, and retelling of personal experience, must point people to Jesus who died and rose again for us all. We all have moments of seeing more clearly, and they are true gifts, but the clearest vision, the ultimate revelation of who he is and his glory is his death on the cross and wonderful resurrection.
But we may well say as some did then, We wish to see Jesus. Remember those words of Paul the Apostle, who himself never saw Jesus in the flesh, God hath shined in our hearts, to give the knowledge of his glory in the face of his Son Jesus Christ. The vision of Jesus transfigured will come to us, Paul says, not in this or that mountain or place, but in our hearts. What Peter, James and John saw that day was the glory of God in the body of Christ.
May God grant us the same vision.