In 13 Today's Church on 2017/02/03 at 12:00 AM


(given in Kingston, Jamaica)
Today in our first reading from the Book of Genesis, we hear the story
of God the Father forming a covenant with Abram.  In hearing this story
we really hear the story of how salvation history began.  Genesis tells
us of how Abram - who will soon be called Abraham - sacrificed the
various animals, split them in two, and how the smoking fire pot and
flaming torch appeared and passed between the pieces.  In ancient times
when men would enter into covenants with one another, they would
slaughter an animal - perhaps a cow, which was very valuable - and then
walk between the pieces as the means of forming or "cutting" a
A covenant isn't simply a contractual agreement between people.  It's
much deeper than that.  It's a binding together of two people for an
important purpose, and it connotes an exchange of self.  Over the
course of salvation history, this covenant between God and man first
formed with Abram has been renewed several times, culminating with the
eternal covenant between God and man effected by Jesus in the Cross.
In that momentous covenantal moment Jesus Himself was both priest and
victim: the One who offered the covenant and the lamb who was offered.
And every time we come to Mass, we experience this covenantal action of
our God once again in an unbloody fashion.
While Christ made this covenant on Calvary with all men, we enter into
it personally through the Sacrament of Baptism.  At that most sublime
moment of our life, we make a promise to be God's holy people, and He
promises to be our God and Father, saving us from our sins.  And in
this process a miraculous exchange takes place:  we exchange the
poverty and weakness of our human condition for the riches and strength
of God's grace.  We exchange the filth of our sins for the purity of
God's righteousness.  In short, we exchange death for life.
Through baptism we choose to live to live in communion with our Lord.
Our communion with Him on earth is but a foretaste of the eternal
communion we will have with Him in heaven.  In the covenant God made
with Abraham, God promised to give to his descendants the land from the
Wadi of Egypt to the great river Euphrates, which prefigures our Lord's
promise to give us the Kingdom of Heaven.
Thus, the ultimate good of entering into a covenant with God is
In the Gospel today we hear the familiar story of our Lord's
transfiguration.  Whereas the first reading tells us of the beginning
of salvation history, the Gospel today gives us a foreshadowing of the
final end of slavation history, for the Transfiguration gives a glimpse
of the glory we are called to in heaven.  To be transfigured ourselves
is what God desires for us, but for this to happen we must be faithful
to our personal covenant with God formed at our baptism.
Rather than being enemies of the cross of Christ who glory in their
shame, we must stand firm in the Lord.  Rather than being occupied with
the things of the world, we must remember that our citizenship is in
heaven.  We must not allow ourselves to become too comfortable in our
life here on earth, for this world is passing and our life here on
earth is temporary.
Rather, we must use this life to prepare for heaven.  We must prepared
to be transfigured, for the call to be a Christian is the call to be
Whereas Christ was transfigured in Mt. Tabor in a moment, our
transfiguration occurs over the course of our lifetime.  The more we
conform ourselves to God's will the more transfigured we become.
Right now we are celebrating the penitential yet beautiful season of
While Lent was created as a means of preparing for the glories of
Easter, ultimately Lent is a means of preparing for heaven.  This we do
through our fasting, prayer, and almsgiving.  Faithfully engaging in
these Lenten practices help to transfigure us here on earth so that we
may he more fully transfigured in heaven.  Faithfully engaging in these
Lenten practices help configure us into the likeness of Christ.
As we meditate on our Lord's transfiguration today, let us joyfully
renew our commitment to our baptismal promises so that one day we, too,
may enjoy the joys of heaven where all of us will share in our Lord's

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio .
To enable the audio, please go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

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