“The Father Makes Him Known”
February 7, 2016 - The Fifth and Last Sunday Of Epiphany
Exodus 34: 29 – 35/ Psalm 99 /2 Cor. 3: 12 - 4: 2 Luke 9: 28 - 36
Bishop Ariel Cornelio P. Santos
We are in a place that is hallowed by God’s presence. We praise God here, but we look like we are downcast. In the presence of the Lord is fullness of joy. We have the Table of God! The Church is the happiest place on earth!
We are three days away from Lent and it begins on Ash Wednesday. Lent is a good time to remind us and to reflect again that our lives are an offering to God. We have been singing this song, “Heart of Worship,” which reminds us that it is all about God. He is the object of worship; it is not about us. Worship is not just about singing, the giving of offerings, attendance at Mass and Church activities or involving ourselves in ministry and doing the work of the Church. Worship is our whole life. It is the offering of our whole being every day – not just when we put on our Christian garments. It is not just about having a status as Christian, but it is about us offering unto Him everything, the best that we can give to him. It is not about what we can get or the return of our involvement or our giving. We preach too much on the hundredfold return when we give a certain percentage of our income. It is more about God.
Romans 12:1 says, “Offer your full being as a living sacrifice.” St. Paul defines real worship as the offering of ourselves of every day as a living sacrifice. Worship is not just singing; worship is not just involvement. Worship is not just giving of offering or attending in the Church. Worship is the offering of our bodies, our whole lives –a one hundred percent of our whole being.
The song says, “Lord, I offer my life to you. Everything I’ve been through, use it for your glory. Things in the past, things yet unseen, wishes, dream, that are yet to come true, I offer all of them offer to you. All we possess are these lives we’re living that’s we give to You, Lord.” Our lives came from God. What we are is God’s gift to us. What we become is our gift to Him. Our whole being is offered back to Him.
Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds.” Be transformed into the image of Christ. Be transfigured by the renewing of your minds. In 2Corinthians 3, like Moses, we are transformed from one degree of glory to another into God’s image. This happens when we come before God and speak with Him. That is, commune with Him, pray to Him, know Him, and trust and obey Him. It just doesn’t happen in our prayer closet at our prayer time, but every day as we grow in the knowledge and in a relationship with Him.
Worship is a relationship with God. Our knowledge of Him is personal, but don’t confuse this with individual or autonomous. It is personal but not divided. It is personal but at the same time corporate as one. It is not just ceremonial, but it is an offering of our whole life. It is all or nothing.
I believe in transubstantiation or transformation of the elements, the bread and wine, into the body and blood of Jesus. I believe this because I am a born-again Christian. It happens to me and you. God made us new creatures. 2Corinthians 5:17 says that we are a new creation. It is no longer we who live because God made us a new creation, in Christ. If a whole person becomes a criminal, a drug addict, a downtrodden and a broken-hearted person or a hopeless person, it is easier for the bread and wine to become the body and blood of Christ. If a person without hope can be transformed into somebody with hope and spreading hope, bread and wine is easy to convert. We become a new creature. We become a little Christ. In Latin, it is alter Christus, which is one of the titles of the Pope. This should be one of our titles too. We are to be Jesus Christ to others. We are not just instruments; we are not justchannels, but new creatures. We are not just a channel of blessing; we are blessings ourselves. We are not just a channel of the righteousness of God so that it flows through us, but we are the righteousness of God, in Christ Jesus. We are an icon, an English word that comes from the Greek word Eikon meaning a copy that contains the original.
We changed the words of the song from, “Shine forth your life through us.” The original says, “Shine down Your light on me. Let the people see.” We say, “Let the Lord shine down His light on me and I will be a good witness.” This is what God does to us. He converts and transforms and transfigures people so that they can be in turn a witness so that salvation may reach to the ends of the earth. Let the people see. We are not just conduits.
Isaiah 61 which Jesus quoted in Luke 4 says, “The spirit of the Lord is upon Me so that I can release captives; so that I can restore prisoners. Those who have been afflicted, those who had been downtrodden, I can deliver them. I can convert them and give them hope so that they, in turn, would become oaks of righteousness that is strong and stable.” Formerly, they were without hope. They were formerly downtrodden; helpless and lifeless. God converts these people so that they can, in turn, become oaks of righteousness and be repairer of the ruins themselves. They are not just channels but they, for themselves, experience for real God and His life. This makes them more effective witnesses.
Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world,” but then He also said, “You are the light of the world,” because His light has come upon you. “Arise, shine, for your light has come.” You, yourselves, are the light of the world like Jesus; you are the little Christ. Before we are ministers, before we are readers, acolytes, dancers and singers, we, first, must be believers. We, first, must have that light and experience it. We, first, must be committed disciples. We tend to think that it is just an assignment. Before we can repair the ruins, we, first, must be oaks of righteousness. Experience first ourselves what we must proclaim. Otherwise, we are just performers. Otherwise, we are just a product endorser who doesn’t even use the product we endorse. We are even familiar with it. If we ourselves are users and we experience that which we receive and proclaim, then, we are more effective witnesses.
There is a saying, “It takes one to know one.” In discipleship, it takes one to make one. It takes a disciple to make a disciple. It takes a believer to make him believe. It takes a follower to make a follower. This is because all the light of God is in us. It is a matter of “already but not yet.” Christ is in us. We have the mind of Christ, but at the same time, we are being transformed into Him and we learn from Him. We go from one degree of glory to the next degree of glory. Lent is a good time to reflect on Jesus’ self-sacrifice, His offering of self. It aids us in our transformation, in our transfiguration.
In Hebrews 10:6-7, it says that blood sacrifice or burnt offering is not what God desires. “It is written of Me in the scroll of the Book, “I have come to do your will.” It is a living sacrifice which is holy and acceptable and well-pleasing. Romans12 defines what is acceptable to God. The only acceptable thing is our whole being as a sacrifice, much after the example of Jesus. St. Paul says that this is your acceptable service of worship. We need to renew our minds so that we can prove, we may know, and we may delight in doing God’s will. We must understand that it is not about us.
A song goes, “Sorry, Lord, for making it according to my understanding.” Worship is about God, not about us. We have made it about us, to something else than to focus on God. We have made it, “Prosperity for me. Blessing for me. Heaven for me. I don’t know about the others. Maybe, they are going to hell.” If our minds are renewed, we will want God’s will. As John 6:39 says, God’s will is, “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me, I lose nothing.” The Father’s will is not one to perish, but all to have eternal life.
I am not preaching a dogma, but an attitude. I am encouraging in us a hope for all to come to the knowledge of God; for all to repent. I am not talking about tolerance of wrong either. I am not talking about not correcting wrong. It is an attitude against us, the chosen one and them, the condemners. It's not us acting like the Pharisees, “Lord, I thank You that you made us this way. Lord, I thank You that You made me a good person.” We say, “Lord, I am thankful that I have the right to come before Your altar, not like them, because I am good. The others can’t come because they are not like me. I hope that they will get saved, too.” This is the attitude that I am preaching against: I am a saint; you are a sinner; too bad for you.
I read an article by a Christian entitled “Marriage Is Not for Me.” The bottom line is it is not inward; it is not toward self, but it is outward. Furthermore, Christianity is not for us. Christianity is for God and for my neighbor. It is not about us. Maybe, this is what Peter needed to understand when God the Father spoke to him and made him realize that he should listen to Jesus. Obviously, Peter enjoyed the atmosphere. There was Jesus, gleaming and in resplendent light and there was Moses and Elijah. The disciples had front seats in the spectacle, so Peter said, “We will build a tabernacle – one for You; one for Moses; one for Elijah – and then, we will build bucket seats for Jesus, have some popcorn and soda, put our feet up and watch You and enjoy Your presence.
God rebukes this attitude because is it “for me.” “I enjoy the glory of God. Oh, the glory of Your presence.” It is part of it, but it doesn’t stop there. “Manifest on mountain height, shining in resplendent light, where disciples filled with awe, the transfigured glory saw,” which we experience sometimes when we worship God, when we are in the Spirit. “When for there, Thou leddest them, steadfast to Jerusalem to accomplish the greatest act of love and selflessness for the life of the world.” It is not just “for me.”
Sometimes, God allows us to experience the glory, but it is not just for us to bask in but to spread. Salvation is not just for us to experience, but for us to make it reach the ends of the earth. Isaiah 49 says, “I have given you as a light to the nations that My salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” It is not just so that you may have light and display your light, so that you will be popular and that people look at you.” Matthew 5 says, “Let your light shine before men so that they may glorify God the Father who is in heaven,” and in Isaiah 2, “Making you the chief of the mountains so that people may be drawn to you for the purpose of salvation reaching them also.”
The glory of God, the greatness of God, the awesomeness of God, is not just displayed in the greatness of His creation or in the eternality of His creation. In His act of love, this great Creator, the Omnipotent and All-powerful would give His life for His enemies. His life was for people who had no hope; for people whom He could just have left alone. Jesus could have just stayed in heaven instead, but Jesus manifested divine nature and character, not just in signs and wonders, but ultimately more so in the greatest act of love – of giving of Himself.
Cross and Easter day attest, God, in Jesus, made manifest. Cross is the ultimate symbol of the greatest form of love. The process of salvation for the whole world, the process of salvation reaching the ends of the earth entails not just us sharing it. Sharing is generosity, but salvation and reaching the ends of the earth entails also us in giving of our lives. Sharing is generosity and giving of our lives is divine character. This would attest, that God, in man, is made manifest.
As we prepare for the Season of Lent, hopefully, we understand what Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.” The first step is: deny yourself. This is a significant part of knowing God and making Him known. This, my brothers and sisters, is the way it is in the kingdom of our God.