Living Transfigured Lives: Feast of the Transfiguration Reveals the Plan of God for Us All
We who bear the name Christian are in process, works in progress, being re-created and transfigured in Him
The Christian vocation is a real "participation in the Divine Nature." We are being transfigured in Christ. This transfiguration will only be complete when the entire person, including the body, is fully redeemed and transformed. The followers of Jesus, the Transfigured One, now walk in His Way and are being transformed into His Image beginning now.
On that Mountain, Jesus revealed before mortal eyes the Transcendent Truth of who He is - and who Peter, James and John ...and each one of us - will become in Him
CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) - Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother John, and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, "Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud came a voice, "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him." Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them. (Mark 9)
The Feast we celebrate in the Liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church on August 6 is an ancient one. The early Christians viewed its implications in their own lives much differently than we seem to. Its seeming "insignificance" in our lives is unfortunately underscored this year by the fact that it falls on a Saturday and few Catholics even go to Mass on Saturday. Or, if they do, it will be the Vigil Mass this evening where the Feast will not be celebrated because our Liturgy will be the nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Christians of the Eastern Christian Church, Catholic and Orthodox, not only celebrate the importance of this Feast liturgically, but they have held on to the ancient Christian understanding of its significance in our own lives. This is an extraordinary Feast of hope which can help us to live differently. We are invited, by reflecting on this event in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, to focus us on the "end" of the Christian life. "End" in the philosophical and theological sense means purpose or goal.
We will all be fully transfigured, as the Lord Himself was transfigured, when our redemption is complete in the Resurrection of the Body. Then, we will live in the new heaven and new earth. This reality is meant to affect the way we live our lives beginning right now. From the earliest centuries, the Christian Church emphasized the centrality of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Our experience of our life in the Lord - and in His Church - is only the beginning of what is to come in the kingdom. Our life is already a participation in that new reality, beginning right now.
The Church, in the words of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council, is a "seed of the kingdom" to come. Our life within the Church is a participation in the eternal realities of the life to come in a new heaven and a new earth - but that participation begins in the here and now. The Transfiguration account invites us to reflect on what this all can mean for us - right now.
This event on the Mountain was meant to strengthen the faith of these three disciples. They were about to witness the events that would lead their Lord and Master along what would appear to be an ignominious path, up Golgotha´s lonely hill, to be crucified, a fate reserved for common criminals. Their own faith would be shaken, tested and tried. He loved all who were His own in this world (John 13:1). Yes, as so many beautiful writings in the Tradition remind us, the Lord wanted to encourage them - and to encourage us.
However, this One who came from eternity and took upon Himself the limitations of time, was about to open the portal of eternity to all of us who are being re-created in Him. He would reveal to Peter, James and John the eternal now of His own glory. He was doing so much more than simply encouraging them. He was showing them who He was - and who they would become in Him. He was revealing to them what had already begun; and giving them a vision that would forever change the way they viewed themselves, their daily lives and their mission, after He would return to the Father.
As they lived their lives no longer for themselves but for Him they began to undergo their own trials and walked the way to their own transfiguration. This is the path of all who bear His name. We entered through the waters of the womb of Holy Baptism into the life of the Church which is His Body. We are members of His Body now and through the Sacraments and our participation in the life of grace, he communicates His energy, His Divine Life to us.
We who bear the name Christian are "in process", works "in progress", being re-created and transfigured in Him. He has brought heaven to earth and earth to heaven, through the Paschal mystery. Oh, I know, this is "heavy" stuff as we used to say. Does it seem somewhat "esoteric" or perhaps "too theological"? But it is the ancient and ever new Catholic Christian faith. On this Feast Day we are invited to consider whether the truth which it reveals is being embraced and experienced in our daily lives.
On that Mountain, Jesus revealed before mortal eyes the Transcendent Truth of who He is - and who ...
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