March 1, 2015


He was transfigured before them…. – Mark 9: 2

   Here is the explanation Abraham Lincoln gave for not appointing a certain man to a cabinet post: “I don’t like his face!” A friend of the man responded, “But Mr. Lincoln, the poor fellow isn’t responsible for his face.” Lincoln replied, “Every man over 40 is responsible for his face.”

   In Matthew’s version of the transfiguration, we are told that Jesus’ “face shone like the sun” (17:2). In the prologue to John’s Gospel, we read, “The word was made flesh, he lived among us, & we saw His glory” (1: 14). We often use the word “glory” loosely to mean the fame or honor or praise that someone has achieved. Thus, we often hear it said cynically, “He/she is only out for glory.” On the other hand, we speak of the glory of a sunset, or we hear a piece of music & call it glorious. What does the word “glory” mean to us? What is the glory of God that shone through the face of Jesus like the sun?

   According to one definition, “Glory is the essential nature of a person or thing so made known as to awe & inspire us.” The glory of a flower, therefore, is its beauty. Its beauty in form & fragrance calls forth our praise. Glory in wartime (if we can even use that term legitimately) refers to the courage of individuals in the face of manifest danger. But all such glory is fleeting & soon forgotten. The glory of Jesus, however, has not ceased to awe & inspire us down to this day because “He reflects the glory of God & bears the stamp of His nature,” says the New Testament.

   More amazing still, that glory is not limited to Him alone. In His farewell speech before His passion in John’s Gospel, Jesus prays for His followers: “In them I am glorified…. I have given them the glory you gave me that they may be one as we are one…”(17: 10). The glory of God, the essential nature of God revealed in the person of Jesus is Love (with a capital L). Jesus was so at one with the loving presence of God that it was reflected not only in His face which shone like the sun on the mountain, but also in His ministry of loving service back down in the valley, among the people.

   The Transfiguration story tells us that our whole world is enveloped in the wonder of divine mystery. Ours is to enter into the great mystery of love in faith. Ours is to lovingly embrace the Kingdom of God within us so that it shines through in our lives of loving service.

   A nature lover was hiking in the mountains out West when he spied a small stone that seemed to reflect all the surrounding colors, as though trying to mirror nature. He pocketed the stone & took it home. Once there, however, he noticed that it had completely lost its luster. It was nothing but a hard, grey chunk of nothing. He was headed for the trash can in the backyard to throw it away when he opened the kitchen door & a sunbeam struck the stone. As though by magic, it began to shimmer, to glow again. The rays from the sun were all that was needed for it to come alive. How much like us! Of ourselves our lives are empty, colorless, without meaning. Only when we are touched by the glory of God is our inner beauty revealed.

   During this Lenten season, it is our task to scrape off (with God’s help) the rust & corrosion of our sinfulness so that God’s glory may be revealed in us. By now it should be clear to all how desperately our world needs to experience this! AMEN!