Transfiguration of the Lord

AUGUST 6TH, 2017

Father Shawn Hughes


Homilies are never the creative act of one person.  So as we begin to post these homilies on our website I would like to state first and foremost that there will be nothing original in the following. My homilies are a result of my prayer, reading and study as it pertains to the particular gospel of the week.  Thus, I beg, borrow and steal from the wisdom of those who have gone before me and together with the Holy Spirit acting in my own prayer considering the needs of our particular parish community here at St. Mary’s, a homily appears by the weekend. If there is something that edifies you I can take no credit for it.  ‘Tis the result of the work of the Holy Spirit and those from whom I have gleaned wisdom over time.  If there is something that you might wish to discuss I am always available and would welcome any opportunity to speak about the Scriptures.  

God bless you.

Father Shawn


The essential revelation of the New Testament is the connection of glory with the person of Jesus.


The gospel we have just heard, the Transfiguration, directly reveals Christ’s Lordship, his glory.    The Greek word translated as transfiguration is metamorphoses.  His human body is transfigured, undergoes a metamorphoses.

In Jesus’ metamorphoses we see Jesus as he truly is, Son of Man, Son of God and King of Kings.   His human nature is radiant with His Divine Glory.

We see the Trinity revealed in this Gospel.  Jesus Himself, the Second person of the Blessed Trinity, The cloud is the most common manifestation of the Holy Spirit, and the Father in the voice.  Jesus appears with the two greatest figures of the Old Testament:  Moses, the lawgiver, the one through whom God established the covenant and Elijah, the holiest of prophets.  Jesus comes to establish a new covenant and to fulfill all the ancient prophecies – He is Lord not only of the present and the future, but even of the past.  He is the fulfillment of the past.

Each of the readings connects the glory of God with Jesus.

In the Prophet Daniel’s vision in the first reading we are in the throne room of God…and we see at the end of time the Son of Man comes on the clouds.

The second reading is an eye witness account of the Transfiguration written by Peter who was there.

Why does the Transfiguration take place?

The feast of the Transfiguration is to show us where we are going. Yes, it is to show us the glory, the joy of Jesus. But it is also says to each one of us that is where we belong. One of the key passages in the gospel is:  “This is my beloved Son listen to him.”  If we listen to the Lord, follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit to do the good that is in all of us, if we strive to overcome injustice and evil, if we try to live a life of holiness and repent for our sins, we will also be transfigured for all eternity.  This is the goal.

The Transfiguration also takes place because the Apostles need strengthening.

It is as though Jesus is saying remember this when things are not so bright.  Remember this when you are at the foot of the cross.

It is for strengthening.  He is preparing himself and his disciples for the Passion. For his suffering and death. He has just predicted for the third time that he will suffer and die.  It is recorded for us so that when we read the passion, the suffering and death of Jesus we know who is suffering. Our God…Our God, the one transfigured on Mount Tabor, will suffer.   But it is also recorded for us so that when we are suffering;  when our lives become difficult we know that the one who is supporting us, is the one who’s face we see glorified on Mount Tabor and the one whose face we see on the Cross.  We have a God who knows what it is to suffer.  He understands it and is in it with us.

We have many transfigurations in our own lives.…many so called mountain top experiences where the presence and grace of God is undoubtedly powerful and real.  This happens when we spend time with God in our prayer.…it happens in our homes…in places like  this cathedral or St. James Chapel where the blessed sacrament is exposed and we can sit before him really present in the Blessed Sacrament and experience the presence and grace of God…Mountain top experiences happen when…I would think, for all of you who are married …your wedding day hopefully was one of those mountain top experiences…For those of you who are parents, I’m sure it happens when you first looked upon the face of your newborn son or daughter …There are many moments in our lives where the presence of the grace of God has shone through and we have recognized the glory of God.

These need to be savoured,…Spiritually it is good to return in our memory to these powerful experiences in prayer or events in our lives where God has been very real…In returning to them we experience the Grace once again…In returning to these experiences, they deepen and a more grace is experience. These mountain top experiences need to be remembered when things are more difficult…When you have come down from the mountain and it is not so easy to see the glory of God.

One of the mountain top experiences in my life was the moment my dear mother died.  I was sitting beside her bed in KGH…my father was there with some of my brothers.  Mom had been diagnosed with cancer 8 months previously and the treatments had run their course…the moment she died…the presence of God was so palpable in the room it was like thrusting one’s face into a burning fire it was so intense.  I have returned to that mountain top experience many times…  The grace is re-experienced and deepened.  It helped me when I worked at the hospital many years after that…and especially when I am with others who are about to step into eternity.

Imagine for a moment what Peter and James and John saw… all the glory of God pouring from within Christ…It was so powerful they fell down…They experienced the risen Christ in all his fullness…Imagine what his face would have been like…perfect peace, perfect joy, perfect love…I’m sure he must have been smiling…

It’s very strong in Eastern spirituality to contemplate the smile of the risen Christ.   It is important for us in our spirituality to look at the Lord and see his smile for us.  When we can experience the Lord smiling at us something changes.

This change usually happens after a long period of facing our sin…which is always very painful.  But if we are truly seeking to experience the radiance of Jesus we have to live through a period of confronting our darkness.  Humbly we know we have matured through this spiritual stage when we can see the smile of the face of Jesus. …. when we can experience the perfect peace, perfect joy, perfect love…experience the mercy of God.

One of my favourite works of Art: Crucifix in the Cathedral of St. Cecilia in Omaha Nebraska, Experience the Father’s love and their connection just in that smile.

Just like at Jesus’ Baptism the Father speaks to Peter, James, John and us… “This is my Son the beloved.”  But this time he ads “Listen to him!”

The Transfiguration takes place in our lives when we listen to him…. When we spend time with Him in His Word, in the Scriptures,…He reveals his Glory in his Word.

When we understand the Scriptures and put them into practice is a dimension of the Transfiguration.  This is the most common way of the Transfiguration being present in our lives… Listening to the Word of God and putting it into practice.  Then the Metamorphoses begins.

Jesus clearly outlines how in Matthew chapter 25:

Feed the Hungry, Give drink to the thirsty, cloth the naked, visit the sick, lonely, and those in prison Jesus says: “When you did this to the least of my brothers and sisters you did it to me!”

The heart of the transfiguration is that God transforms humanity, he can transform each one of us …if we listen to him… And put what he says into action.

A wee bit of homework this week:  Take this gospel, the first nine verses of Matthew chapter 17.  Reread it.  Picture in your prayerful imagination yourself along with Peter, James and John…picture yourself as a fourth witness to the Transfiguration .  Picture in your prayerful imagination Jesus appearing in all his glory to you!  Picture his face.  See the radiance of His smile.   Savour it.

The heart of the transfiguration is that God can transform each one of us…if we listen to him.

We have a text in Philippians 3 where it says our citizenship is in heaven. That is where we belong. It says the lord will change our lowly body by the power that enables him to bring all things in subjection to himself. The divine power to transformed Jesus at the resurrection is the same power that will transform us for all eternity. That is the mystery at the heart of the transfiguration.  It is an anticipation. And our lives are meant to experience that anticipation to, embody that Anticipation!

We are awaiting that. We will be totally transformed. Even our bodies.

Read them, pay attention to them and obey them.  Then we will see the smile of Jesus.  Only those devoted.

Prepares us to see the Trinity, and to rejoice in the transformed humanity of Jesus Christ.

The normal part of maturing in the Christian life is to see who chases truly is. To know him. To see that smile on his face when he regards us. Smile of love. Smile of compassion. Smile of mercy.

In this life we have to confront our sin.  and realize that only God can free us from it. This is a difficult time. Here we begin our metamorphoses our transformation. Our transfiguration in this life

And there are moments when this is purposely given to us to and courageous.

It’s very strong in Eastern spirituality to see the smile of the risen Christ. When in our spirituality we can come to look at the Lord and see his smile for us, something changes. This usually happens after a long period of facing our sin which is very painful. But if we are truly searching for Jesus we have to confront our darkness. And we are going to have to live through it. We know we have come through this schedule stage when we can see the smile of the face of Jesus. Experience the mercy of God.

Jesus is the word of God incarnate. His body bears the infinite word of God. His body is held in existence by the infinite word of God. The very depths of his personality is the infinite word of God. Is it surprising that his body would be radiant? That he can sometimes take away the veil and let people see that radiance.

The goal of our spiritual life is to experience the smile of Jesus. Even if we return to sin! Once we have experienced it, it is there. The merciful gaze of the Saviour!

And you see it radiant on his face and you change.

The reality of the transfiguration is who Jesus really is is shown even in this mortal body.

Who Jesus is and knowing who Jesus is always a success it knowing who we are.


Jesus transfigured. This is reality. He is preparing himself and his disciples for the passion. For his suffering death and resurrection. It is recorded for us. So that when we read the passion the suffering and death of Jesus we know who is suffering. God. The one transfigured on Mount Tabor. But it is also recorded for us. So that when we are suffering when our lives become difficult we know that the one who is supporting us, is the one who’s face we see glorified on Mount Tabor.

To see the face of the Lord in moments of crisis, is to be strengthened, supported, unforgettable through the rest of our lives. The memory of that vision of Jesus smiling. It will support you.

The crucifix at the Cathedral of Saint Cecilia…Moms transformation.