8/3/2017 9:00:00 AM WORD OF FAITH Bringing transfiguration to others
BY REV. ANTHONY BARRATT
FROM A READING FOR AUG. 6, TRANSFIGURATION OF THE LORD
'We made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ...we had been eyewitnesses of His majesty....So we have the prophetic message confirmed...' -- 2 Pt 1:16,19
Every so often in our Church and liturgical calendar, we have a feast day or solemnity that "bumps" or replaces the usual Sunday readings. We begin August with just such an occurrence: instead of having the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, we celebrate the feast day of the transfiguration of the Lord on Aug. 6.
Each of our readings guides us through the various meanings of the feast, then helps us to see how we can apply these to daily life.
The first reading sets the scene. We hear from the enigmatic, mysterious book of the prophet Daniel. Written by a nobleman named Daniel during the sixth century BC, when Israel was exiled in Babylon from their Promised Land, this is a book of both visions and action.
The passage we hear (Dn 7:9-10,13-14) is pivotal: Daniel begins to describe his visions. Some 2,500 years later, as Christians, we can see this vision as a prophecy about the awesome glory of God, and also of the God Father sending His Son to establish His universal kingdom.
This kingdom will transform or transfigure everything and everyone -- us included!
To push home the point, Psalm 97 sings of the greatness and kingship of God over creation and all people. This is not something to be resisted or grudgingly accepted. To intentionally acknowledge the sovereign power of God is a cause for rejoicing. In fact, this psalm would be an excellent choice to say as we begin each day. It can give us the right focus and direction.
The second reading (2 Pt 1:16-19) is almost a nostalgic remembering of that life-changing day for St. Peter when he was on Mount Tabor with James and John as they saw Jesus transfigured before their eyes. As Peter says, this is "no cleverly-devised myth." Peter was an eyewitness to the majesty and glory of Jesus.
Peter, in turn, shared that experience with others (the prophetic message), and he asks that we listen and pass it on, too. Then, our hearts and those of others will be filled with light, and we can bring the transforming presence of Jesus to others - especially those who are in a dark place.
The apex of our readings is reached as we hear about the transfiguration of Jesus. Jesus is transfigured (transformed) in front of His closest disciples. His inner beauty and awesome power as Son of God and Son of Man shines out.
The disciples are both afraid and awestruck. Yet, just a short time after this, they will see Jesus transformed again -- in His suffering, as He carries His cross and is crucified -- before they then see the risen Lord transformed yet again in His glorified body at Easter.
We are transformed
This Gospel reminds us how God's love and mercy can transfigure or transform us. Our inner beauty as sons and daughters of God can shine out!
Hopefully, we have all had experiences of the transfiguring, transforming power of God: a bad situation or relationship has been healed, or someone who is struggling or battling a major illness has found peace. This Gospel is a reminder that the Lord asks us to be His agents of that transfiguration, to share the good news of what we have received and experienced. We are to be evangelizers and disciple-makers.
Peter thought that it was wonderful to be present at Jesus' transfiguration and perhaps wanted to stay on the mountain, making a shrine there. But this did not happen. Instead, Jesus takes Peter and the other two disciples down the mountain. Jesus must continue to fulfill His mission and ministry -- and so must Peter, James and John; and so must we.