The goal is attaining the kingdom of heaven. Not just individually—for that is quite selfish. But together; in families; with loved ones; and with all those who have been baptized into Christ, who deny their own agendas and rely exclusively on His mercy and kindness, and who desire nothing more than kneeling at His altar and receiving the Holy Supper of His very Self.
The goal is the kingdom of heaven. Not just escaping this life and being done with the horrors that have been done to us, together with the misery we’ve often created. But being welcomed fully and completely by God Himself, and being embraced and warmed by His no-strings-attached mercy. So not simply being delivered from now, but more importantly living as we were made and designed to live—in an intimate relationship and communion with our Maker.
The goal is attaining the kingdom of heaven. But what does that look like? There shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain. For the former things—that is, the things that have frightened and sickened us, the things that have made a mess of our lives, the things hurtful and wicked that we have falsely loved—these things have passed away.
But what does this look like?
Look at Our Lord Jesus Christ as He stands on the Mount Tabor. Look at Him as He is transfigured—His clothes as white as light, and His face shining like the sun. Look at Him as He is surrounded by Moses, Elijah, Peter, James and John—the key representatives of the Old and New Testament saints, the weak men whom the Lord sanctified and strengthened to be His voice. Look at Him, standing there in all His glory. You can see that He’s human. But He’s not like any man that you’ve ever seen. His divine nature is shining through His human nature. His flesh cannot hold back His divinity.
You’ll see Him again like this after His resurrection. He’ll be so transformed that you won’t always recognize Him. You’ll need the Spirit to open your eyes and your mind in order to know and understand and believe that this glorified man is the same One who was nailed to the cross; who was tempted in every respect like you are; who destroyed all you suffer when He suffered; and who truly died and truly was buried.
So, look at Him now. For the goal is the kingdom of heaven. And when we arrive, we will look like Him. That’s not just a wish or a dream. That’s a rock-solid promise. For St. Paul assures us that the Lord Jesus Christ will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body. And there He is in His glorious body. The fullness of God filling every cell of His body and shining through every pore of His flesh.
He does this not for His benefit. And not to show us how different He is from us. Our Lord transfigures to show us what the seed He plants in us will look like when we arrive; when we attain the fullness of His heavenly kingdom. For the body is sown in corruption, will be raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, and will be raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, and will be is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, and raised a spiritual body. And now, looking at Our Lord Jesus transfigured before our eyes—now we have an idea of what our spiritual body will look like. And how our life in God looks when we attain the kingdom of heaven.
It is good that Our Lord gives us this glimpse. He shows us not just what He’s like, but also what we’ll be like. For Our Lord knows what we’re like. We’re more interested in the end-game, in how things will turn out, than we are working through the hardness of life and striving against our ungodly desires. We want to know we’re there already without doing the hard work necessary for the journey.
The goal is the kingdom of heaven. There’s no more moving on once we’ve arrived. And what we need to believe, what we need to understand, what we need to see now, today, is that we’re standing right now in the kingdom of heaven. That this place, this Mass, is both the goal and the way to attain the fullness of our goal. If we lose this, then we lose everything. If this is messed with or tainted or corrupted or defiled, then we’re in danger of not reaching the goal.
So today Our Lord gives us a glimpse of what lies ahead. And He does it to strengthen us. For He knows—my goodness, does He ever know—that the journey is hard, that the devil will confuse and derail us, that life in Him and with Him entails a narrow path with hard choices and no easy options.
And so, today, Our Lord lets us see what lies ahead; what the goal looks like. And in doing so, He is teaching and reminding and urging us two things: that sacrificing all in order to remain true only to Him is worth whatever grief and hardship we might now bear; and that we must never lose heart. For that is what He did for our sake—He sacrificed Himself, even His divine powers and prerogatives; and He never wavered in His trust in the Father, even when He thought He was forsaken. And why was that? Because He knew, He saw, and He kept focused on the goal.
And the goal is the kingdom of heaven.