After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17)
While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” (Matthew 17:5)
We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that unique declaration came to him from the majestic glory, “This is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” (2 Peter 1:16-18)
All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased” (Matthew 3:17). In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, these words are spoken from heaven after Jesus’ Baptism and at his “transfiguration.” Why was God so pleased with his Son? Because Jesus was completely faithful to his mission. He let nothing—not the disciples’ misunderstanding, not the opposition of some Pharisees, not even the occasionally misguided accolades of his followers—deter him from proclaiming the gospel.
Jesus knew what lay ahead of him—not just persecution but even death—and still he held firm. He surely had a sense of how much easier his life could be if he were to water down his message. But he couldn’t stand the thought of turning away from his Father or abandoning us. This kind of devotion must have moved his Father deeply.
It is also interesting to notice that when Peter recounts the story of Jesus’ transfiguration, he focuses only on the very same words from God the Father (2 Peter 1:17) that we hear in the Gospels. He does not mention what Moses looked like or what Elijah said, or any other colorful details of the Transfiguration.
We have to remember why Peter wrote his letter. He wanted to exhort believers to persevere in their faith, and he knew that simply recounting spectacular events from the past was insufficient. Peter sought to highlight who Jesus is, not necessarily all the wonders he performed. What’s more, the voice that Peter heard didn’t say: “Hey, look at what my Son can do!” No, God simply said that he loved his Son and was pleased with him. In other words, the relationship was more important than the miracles. And so on the Mount of Transfiguration, he gave Jesus, his beloved son, a glimpse of the glory that awaited him—the glory, in fact, that awaits everyone who strives to remain faithful to God.
The words of the Father to Jesus also serve to remind us that we too are beloved sons of our heavenly Father. This is not because of what we do, or fail to do, but because of who we are in Christ and because of our relationship with him. Let us, therefore, hold fast to this truth, and to the truth that there is something more important than spectacular miracles—our relationship with the Lord and our heavenly Father.
I believe that Jesus wants you to hear his heavenly Father say to you: “You are my beloved son. I am glad to call you my own.” This may be just an inner sense or an inner voice speaking to you. However, with these words written on our hearts, we can “persevere in running the race that lies before us” (Hebrews 12:1), and we can allow the Lord to transform us more and more into his image (2 Corinthians 3:18). .
“Lord, help me to hold fast to you and to your calling for my life. Dear Father, let me hear your voice in my heart saying: “You are my beloved son. You are pleasing to me.” I want to be transformed more and more into the image and likeness of your Son.
(Maurice Blumberg was the founding Executive Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.nfcmusa.org/), and is currently a Trustee. He is also the Director of Partner Relations for Partners in Evangelism, (http://www2.wau.org/partners/), a Ministry to the Military and Prisoners for The Word Among Us. Maurice can be contacted at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.)
[Many thanks to The Word Among Us (http://www.wau.org/) for allowing me to adapt some material from daily meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.]
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
1. “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased” (Matthew 3:16-17). Why do you think our heavenly Father was so pleased with Jesus?
2. At the Transfiguration, Matthew adds these words at the end of the Father’s proclamation: “listen to him” (Matthew 17:5). How well are you doing at “listening” to the Lord? What are some obstacles in your life that get in the way of listening?
3. It is probably very easy for us to see Jesus as a beloved son of his Father. However, the article goes on to say that “we too are beloved sons of our heavenly Father.” Do you believe that this is true, in spite of your weaknesses, and even your sins? Why or why not?
4. If you are in a men’s group, end your meeting by praying for one another that each of you would personally hear the Father say, deep within you, that you are his beloved son. Use the prayer at the end of the article as a starting point.