Message: In Jesus you and I have a Father who cares - a Father who keeps his promises.
This weekend we celebrate the Solemnity of the Transfiguration. I want to place this feast in the context of our summer series on spiritual warfare. The last two Sundays we saw the high stakes of this war: that each person will either be rejected or become part of the great harvest. To obtain that prize, Jesus tells us, we must risk everything, sell all we have to gain the hidden treasure.
Today we see good reason for risking all: In Jesus we have a Father who cares for us. "This is my beloved son," says the voice from heaven. Through Jesus we become sons and daughters of the Father. We have a Father who keeps his promises.
Dr. Scott Hahn illustrates the Father's fidelity with a story from the 1998 Armenian earthquake. With a 6.9 magnitude the quake flattened buildings and killed some 25,000 people. In the chaos a man ran looking for his son. He couldn't stop thinking about the promise he had given so many times: "No matter what happens, Armand, I'll always be there."
He reached the site of his son's school only to find a hill of rubble. At first he just stood fighting back tears, then took off stumbling over debris running toward the east corner where his son's classroom had been. With bare hands he started digging, pulling bricks and pieces of wall plaster. One of the bystanders said, "Forget it, mister, they're all dead."
He looked up and replied, "You can criticize me or you can help lift these bricks." Only a few pitched in, and most of them gave up once their muscles began to ache. The man couldn't stop thinking about his son, so he kept digging for hours and hours. Twelve hours went by...18...24...36 hours...finally into the 38th hour he heard a muffled groan from under a piece of wallboard.
The man grabbed the board, pulled it back and cried, "Armand!" From the darkness came a slight, shaking voice, "Papa?" Other weak voices began calling out as the young survivors stirred beneath the rubble. Shouts of bewildered relief came from the few onlookers who remained.
They found 14 of the 33 students still alive. When Armand finally emerged he tried to help dig out his surviving classmates. Everybody standing there heard him as he turned to his friends and said, "See, I told you my father wouldn't forget us."
Scott Hahn recounts this story in his wonderful book A Father Who Keeps His Promises. He concludes with this sentence: "That's the kind of faith we need, because that's the kind of Father we have."
Today we join the three favored disciples as they walk with Jesus up that mountain. Perhaps it seemed like a pleasant hike, a break from work and stress. When they awoke from their nap, Jesus gave them a glimpse of his identity, "This is my beloved Son." In Jesus you and I have a Father who cares - a Father who keeps his promises. Amen.
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