“Faith for the Trials”
February 14, 2021
Sixth Sunday After Epiphany
2 Kings 2:1-11
2 Corinthians 4:3-6
Bishop Ariel P. Santos
We are in the last Sunday of Epiphany moving to the Season of Lent. We are transitioning, and it is not an accident that the gospel today is about the transfiguration of Jesus. It is the peak of Jesus' ministry. Before this event, everything was increasing. After the Transfiguration, Jesus went down from the mountain and everything went a downhill. It was a shift from uphill to downhill. It was a success in His ministry with miracles and big crowds, peaking at the Transfiguration where the disciples were filled with awe seeing Him being transfigured. Then, people left, and there was the betrayal, the abandonment, the denial of Jesus, His passion and ultimately His death.
In the Transfiguration, the glory in Jesus was not a momentary episode in the Mount. This glory was in Jesus from the beginning, before the world was made. This glory is constant; it stays with Him. It is an eternal glory, not an on and off thing. Jesus always had this glory not just in the Mount. What happened was that the eyes of the disciples were opened and they saw the glory that has always been with Jesus. The glory was with Jesus before He was born, during the time He was born, when He was baptized and presented at the temple, when He performed a miracle at Cana, when He multiplied the loaves, when He healed the sick and the demon-possessed, when He ate and drank with sinners and forgave the sinners. Jesus’ glory was always there and it never left Him even during His crucifixion, death, resurrection and when He ascended to heaven. It is now in Him as He is with us, and He will be with us.
This glory is forever. We proclaim during the Gloria Patri, “Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning, now, and will be forever.” In the Lord’s Prayer, we say, “For Thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever.” It is all the Glorious mysteries even for the Sorrowful mysteries that is according to the Catholic tradition of the Holy Rosary.
See His glory, not the devil’s glory in the face of adversity. Don’t magnify the negative. Even the disciples saw defeat when Jesus was on the cross. Colossians 2:15 says, “On the cross, Jesus made a public display of the defeat of His enemies.” We are not being thankful for the sorrow, and we are not denying them either, but we continue to rejoice in anything and in everything because we have God’s presence and His joy is our strength and we have the faith to face our trials.
We enter Lent equipped with this and we live our life with this in mind and in our heart: the joy of the Lord is our strength. Right now, it may be sorrowful in different degrees of our lives, in our different situations, but in the midst of all of these, we can always rejoice.
Jesus had joy in His heart just hours before His passion. At the Last Supper, it was He who was encouraging His disciples, telling them, “I am telling these things so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be full.” They didn’t know what was going to happen in the next few hours, but Jesus did. Hebrews 12:2 says, “Jesus had joy and so He endured the cross,” and the writer of this book says, “Fix your eyes on Him.” In God the Father’s words, “Listen to Him.” Draw strength from Jesus!
Moses and Elijah appeared on the Mount. Moses represented the Law and Elijah, the Prophets. They were not themselves the Word of God. The Word of God is not a collection of books, a literature, but the second Person of the Trinity. The Old Testament is not the Word itself, but it points to Jesus. In John 5:30, Jesus said to the Pharisees, “The Scriptures testify about Me.” The Scriptures is a testament to who Jesus is.
The interpretation of a person’s word is not necessarily representative of the person. Sometimes, we can get it wrong. When Americans say “a couple of weeks” it is not the literal “two weeks” but an indefinite number of weeks. There is this scene in the Book of Revelation where there was a book of seven seals which was the key to the salvation of the whole world. John was crying, “This is the life of the universe but it is sealed and nobody can open it, and we are doomed!” The angel said to him, “Don’t cry for the Lamb that was slain will open the book.” Jesus can open the book for us so that we can understand what God has to say.
The Pharisees did not understand Scriptures. When they brought the adulterous woman to Jesus, they quoted the Law on Jesus saying that Moses said to stone adulterous persons. They were right, but what does Jesus have to say? God said, “Listen to Him!” On the Mount of Transfiguration, God did not say, “Listen to Moses and to Elijah.” God rebuked Peter when he wanted to build three tabernacles. Jesus is the final Word, thus, listen to Him!
James and John were in Samaria on their way to Jerusalem, and they requested for lodging. They thought, “How dare they deny the Messiah a place to stay?” They quoted the Old Testament and asked Jesus, “We remember the story of Elijah when he called down from heaven to consume his enemies. Do You want us to do this to the enemies of God?” They had a Biblical basis, but Jesus replied, “You do not know what spirit you are of. The Son of Man did not come to destroy life, but to save it.” The disciples thought they understood God’s Word because they were citing the text. But what does the living Word of God, the logos of God say?” Jesus says to forgive, to be merciful and to love their enemies.
The Old Testament covers a period of time where the people of God were growing. It is a dialogue, a conversation, a debate, but Jesus is the Arbiter, thus, we are to listen to Him.
Elijah called fire down from heaven to consume his enemies, but Elisha, his successor, in capturing the armies of his enemies, did not call fire from heaven like Elijah, but took them to the king and presented them to him. The king asked, “Elisha, shall we kill him?” Elisha said, “No, feed them and send them back to their own king.” Scriptures said that they did not come back anymore. They overcame evil by doing good.
The Old Testament is a shadow of things to come. The truth was not fully resolved but they are, in Jesus, and this is why we need to listen to Him. After God has spoken in the Mount and the disciples were down, when they got up, they saw no one anymore except Jesus alone. Moses and Elijah were gone because they have finished their roles. Now, they hand it over to Jesus because He is the fullness. What were shadows before, now, it is clear because of the Sun of Righteousness.
I am not a Marcionist that rejected the Old Testament and sees God as a killer. We don’t reject the Old Testament. I read it every day in my devotion but never without the authoritative guide of Jesus. The Scriptures testify about Him. He came to fulfill the Law, not to abolish it. What a book can't articulate, the Word of God, living in the flesh now explains it fully. This is Jesus.
Before, we were taught that there were different words of God - the logos, the written word; the rhema, the spoken word which is more powerful. However, we belong to a kingdom not of words but of power. What makes the Word powerful? It is when it becomes incarnate; when it becomes manifested in the flesh; when it becomes tangible. The Word of God is a good read and good to share, but the most powerful witness of the Word of God is the manifested life that is seen in our lives.
The Word of God is alive. It is not just theory, words or rhetoric but alive! We are now Jesus in the flesh! The message of Christmas is the Word of God became incarnate. In the Season of Epiphany, the Word of God is manifested to the world. The Body of Christ, the saints, is called to manifest Him. Epiphany is the revealing, the manifestation of the sons of God, the saints of God because the world yearns for the revelation of God’s sons.
In the Eucharistic Prayer, we pray, “As we receive the Body and Blood of Jesus, may we be transformed to become the Body of Christ to the world.” This is our calling. We need the Eucharist; it is vital and it is essential so that we can continually be transfigured and be conformed to image of Son of God.
Listen to Him! Fix our eyes on Him. Receive Him. Have an encounter with Him as often as we can. Don’t be distracted by what is happening around us. Get as much as we can of Jesus and grow in the knowledge and in the likeness of Him so that we can manifest Him because this is the way it is in the kingdom of our God.