Memorial of Saint Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr

Heb 11:1-7; Ps 145:2-3, 4-5, 10-11; Mk 9:2-13:  Faith is just enough light to make the next step in our journey of life.  The three friends of the Lord Jesus needed to behold the splendor of his glorious majesty on the mountain of transfiguration.  Without such a glimpse of glory the ugliness of the passion would have been too much for the disciples.  Noah had some glimpse of glory in hearing the voice of the LORD commanding him to build an ark.  This was enough for him to expose his behavior to public ridicule and survive the weeks of confinement with all the creatures, clean and unclean.  The Letter to the Hebrews makes it clear that our ultimate victory of sharing the resurrection of Christ is glimpsed while we live in this world in our life of sacraments and prayers.  This is the glory of the Kingdom to come and already here. This is the content of all our discourse.  Every day we bless the LORD, whose greatness is unsearchable.  Generation after generation praises the works and proclaims the might of the LORD.  The works of the LORD abound with thanksgiving, all the creatures, especially those made in His own image and likeness.  Faith is the source of our hope and love.  Faith moves us to sing of his love and share in his service, day by day. Faith gathers us together here and sends us with boldness to witness to the glory of the LORD.

Abel, Enoch, and Noah were men of faith.  They were able to take chances in life because they trusted in the LORD.  Early believers, who grew up in the Hebrew faith, found in these men of old a model for their new life of faith in Christ and in his church.  These three examples are held up for us today; they inspire our journey through the darkness all around us and sometimes deep within us. Abel was not afraid of his brother’s envy; he freely followed his brother out into the field where he was kill. Abel trusted that the LORD would receive him just as he accepted his pleasing sacrifice.  Enoch was promised that he would not see death, and he trusted in the LORD’s promise.  Enoch was seen no more because the LORD took him to his heavenly abode.  Many believers still look for his return because of the way he ascended.  The LORD spoke to Noah and he trusted enough to build and ark, to gather all the creatures, and to assemble his family.  In this family of believers the LORD saw hope for a new beginning after the flood.  All of these men had great faith otherwise they could never please God.  They approached God believing in his existence and trusting in his reward for those who seek him.  By the witness of their faith these men lived in complete contrast to all their contemporaries.  Such a faith-filled life style challenged those around them and gained for them true righteousness.  They lived every day in the confidence of God’s loving favor.  Without fear of rejection these men of faith lived and moved and had their being in the LORD God Almighty.

Saint Peter, Saint James and Saint John were men of faith, and the Lord Jesus led them up a high mountain apart by themselves so that he could reveal that he was the source and fulfillment of their faith.  He filled their eyes of faith with a glimpse of the future glory that they would see with their own eyes.  Once in the beatific vision we no longer need faith to see. He was transfigured before them; they no longer saw him because of reflected light.  These three friends saw Moses, Elijah and the Lord Jesus with radiant light.  Their faith was fulfilled in this vision of glory.  Saint Peter wanted to hold on to the vision; he wanted to build three tabernacles to contain the heavenly vision.  Just like he and the others had done year after year on the Feast of Tabernacles; they wanted to rest, abide, and dwell with the LORD who met them in their make shift dwellings to commemorate the covenant festival at the base of the high mountain.  The three closest friends of the Lord Jesus were terrified, but not as much as they would be terrified in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before the Lord Jesus would be lifted up.   Even while they hid their eyes in fear the cloud came down upon them, making a tent in which they could no longer see but only hear the heavenly voice speak, “This is my beloved Son.  Listen to him.”  That’s all they needed to hear.  That’s all we need to hear.  Still, we are not sure about the details of what it means to rise from the dead. Still, we want explanations about all the predictions we have heard.  Still, even when the Lord Jesus explains about Elijah, we cannot see.  It still takes faith to follow the Lord Jesus to the mountain of Calvary and to behold his glorious passion.