Dwelling in Glory
Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen
There is a temptation to denounce Peter because he wanted to stay on the mountain, as though he were foolish for not seeing what was ahead. Our fallen ears are so corrupt that defeatists sound wise. We are afraid to hope for miracles. We do not want to be disappointed. God means the Theology of the Cross to comfort us, but we have used it as an excuse for despair. Is it not enough to weary men? Must we weary God as well? Are you so proud as to refuse a sign from God? Are you so proud that you will not ask for a miracle or trust in His providence and grace? Repent.
Peter spoke the truth on the mountain. It was good for them to be there. His desire to stay was a godly desire. He desired a good and a noble thing. The Lord did not rebuke him for this. Jesus simply reminded Peter that He is the beloved Son of the Father, in whom the Father is well-pleased; He is anointed as a Sacrifice for the sins of the world. Not the Cloud, the Light, nor the Voice were meant to scare Peter. They were meant to encourage him. Peter was only afraid because he was a sinner. Unlike Moses and Elijah, Peter had not yet passed through death and into life. His flesh was still weak. God’s glory was too much for him, even as it had been for Isaiah in the Temple, as it had been for the Israelites at the foot of Sinai. But today is no longer too much for Peter. Now, today, Peter and the brothers have joined Moses and Elijah. They no longer reside in temporary tabernacles; they dwell in the place prepared for them by their Lord.
God’s purpose in the Transfiguration was not to scare these three, or to show how stupid they were. This was meant to comfort them. He was showing them their own future and planting in them the reality of His divinity. The Transfiguration gave substance and authority to the preaching that followed the resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit. It gave them comfort. Our Lord desires for you the same strength and comfort that He gave to them.
Today we put our Alleluias to rest for a time. We embark upon that great season of penance and contemplation when the liturgy is dressed in sackcloth and ashes. But our Alleluias shall return. The light shines in the darkness. He is not dead. And we remember, confess, and proclaim even in Lent that the tomb is empty. Still, this is a long time to remain focused, to wait for the return of uninhibited and exuberant joy of the resurrection. And so, as we gather on this new Mt. Zion, where God is present in His mercy for you, bread and wine are the cloud that obscures the glory of the Lord. A slain Lamb is a living feast, given for forgiveness and strength, for life and salvation. You will see that Moses and Elijah, Peter, James, and John were here along, mingling their praise with yours. Even today they cry out, “How long?” praying that all God’s people would be fully united; praying that the peace of God would be revealed at last to all creation; praying that the groaning, complaining, and despair would finally stop.
Is that naive and foolish to desire? Is that not what God promises? Is that not what we believe? Do we not die in the waters of baptism, only to be raised to life with God? There is no room here for despair. Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. Easter is coming. It is good for you to be here. God Himself is present for you in His Word and in His body and blood. And soon—very soon—the day will come when you will stay, when Peter’s desire will be fulfilled, when we will dwell forever in the glory of the Lord. Alleluia! In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.