The Transfiguration of Our Lord – 6 August
Sermon on the Transfiguration (Excerpt)
by Father Prosper Gueranger (1805 – 1875)
This Transfiguration of the Son of Man, this manifestation of His Glory, lasted but a few moments – His mission was not on Thabor, it was humiliation and suffering in Jerusalem. He, therefore, withdrew into Himself, the brightness He had allowed to transpire and, when He came to the three Apostles, who, on hearing the Voice from the cloud, had fallen on their faces with fear — they could see no-one, save only Jesus. The bright cloud was gone, Moses and Elias had disappeared. What a favour they have had bestowed upon them! Will they remember what they have seen and heard? They have had such a revelation of the Divinity of their dear Master! — is it possible, that when the hour of trial comes, they will forget it and doubt His being God? and, when they see Him suffer and die, be ashamed of Him and deny Him? Alas! the Gospel has told us what happened to them.
A short time after this, our Lord celebrated his Last Supper with His Disciples. When the Supper was over, He took them to another mount, Mount Olivet, which lies to the east of Jerusalem. Leaving the rest at the entrance of the Garden, He advances with Peter, James and John and then says to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death: stay you here, and watch with Me (Matthew xxvi.). He then retires some little distance from them and prays to His Eternal Father. The Heart of our Redeemer is weighed down with anguish. When He returns to His three Disciples, He is enfeebled by the Agony, He has suffered and His garments are saturated with Blood. The Apostles are aware that He is sad even unto death and that the hour is close at hand when He is to be attacked — are they keeping watch? are they ready to defend Him? No, they seem to have forgotten Him, they are fast asleep, for their eyes are heavy. Yet a few moments and all will have fled from Him and Peter, the bravest of them all, will be taking his oath that he never knew the Man!
After the Resurrection, our three Apostles made ample atonement for this cowardly and sinful conduct and acknowledged the mercy, wherewith Jesus had sought to fortify them, against temptation, by showing them His Glory on Thabor, a few days before His Passion. Let us not wait until we have betrayed Him: let us at once acknowledge that He is our Lord and our God! We are soon to be keeping the anniversary of His Sacrifice like the Apostles, we are to see Him humbled by His enemies and bearing, in our stead, the chastisements of Divine Justice. We must not allow our faith to be weakened, when we behold the fulfilment of those prophecies of David and Isaias, that the Messias is to be treated as a worm of the earth (Ps xxi. 7), and be covered with wounds, so as to become like a leper, the most abject of men and the Man of sorrows (Is. liii. 3, 4).
We must remember the grand things of Thabor and the adorations paid Him by Moses and Elias and the bright cloud and the Voice of the Eternal Father. The more we see Him humbled, the more must we proclaim His Glory and Divinity. We must join our acclamations with those of the Angels and the Four and Twenty Elders, whom St John, (one of the witnesses of the Transfiguration) heard crying out with a loud voice: The Lamb that was slain, is worthy to receive power, and divinity and wisdom, and strength, and honour,and glory and benediction (Apoc. v. 12)!