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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Some Moments Are Echoes Of The Lord Jesus' Transfiguration


The Transfiguration Of Christ by Pietro (Vannucci) Aperugino (c. 1446/1450–1523)

     Jesus took Peter, James, and 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.
As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
     So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.      [The Holy Gospel According To Saint Mark, 9:2-10]


     Once upon a time, a soldier was rushed back from the fighting at the front because his father was dying.  An exception was made because this soldier was the only child and only family the dying man had.   
     The soldier arrived at the hospital, was taken to the Critical Ward, and walked toward the semi-conscious man in the bed.  When the soldier was close enough to see the dying man’s face, he realized  that a horrible mix-up had happened.  This dying man was not his father!  The Army sent the wrong soldier home!
     The soldier went to the Nurses Station and informed the Nurses of the terrible mistake.
     "How much longer does he have to live?" the soldier asked.   "A few hours at most.  His sight is gone; his lungs are collapsing. He was holding on for you -- I mean, for his son to arrive."  
The soldier sat down in a waiting room, and thought of this dying man's son fighting somewhere, thousands of miles away.  
He thought of his own father.  And he thought about this elderly man, holding onto life in the hope of being with his son one last time before he died.
     The soldier walked up to the elderly man’s bed, leaned toward his ear, reached for the elderly man's hand and whispered into his ear, "Dad, I'm here. I'm with you."  
     The dying old man suddenly clutched the soldier’s hand. His failing eyes looked up, but the soldier's face was nothing but a blur.
     A contented smile transfigured the elderly man's face and remained there until he died, an hour later.
On Mount Tabor, during the astonishing experience of Our Lord Jesus' Transfiguration,  the disciples saw in Jesus His Divinity -- the life of God -- that dwelled within Jesus.   From this moment of transfiguration onward, there could be no doubt for them that Jesus of Nazareth was God's own, the Christ!
     I think that each one of us can relate to what the disciples experienced on that mountaintop.  All of us, I'm fairly sure, have experienced episodes when -- for a split second, for a moment -- we seemed to glimpse the eternal existence beyond this one.  
     I think that many, many people have had incidents when they clearly and unmistakably knew that the Presence of God was overwhelming them, or that they were silently, wordlessly being spoken to by God --  personally spoken to by God!  
     For some people, it might occur during intense prayer, or during Eucharistic Adoration, or during Mass, or after receiving the Holy Body and Blood of Christ during Holy Communion.  
     For some, perhaps it was the sight of a beautiful, awe-inspiring creation by God:  like seeing the Grand Canyon, or exquisite forests, or majestic mountains – or witnessing the birth of your children.
     Such moments are echoes  of the Lord Jesus' Transfiguration,  when, like the disciples, we are overwhelmed by the awareness of God's divinity with us.
     That divinity, that life of God, shines within each one of us, too  -- through the presence of the Holy Spirit -- Who entered our existence at Baptism, and has called us to become Christ's disciples: to become more and more like Christ.  
      The challenge of our call to be His disciples,  is for us to allow the Divine life of God within us to transfigure our lives and our world.
     For example: The soldier became transfigured before the dying elderly man.  The elderly man was not "blood."   He was not a relative.  He was an absolute stranger to the soldier.  Yet, the soldier didn't walk out of the hospital ward saying, "What a pity, eh, Doctor? The Army really messed this up!  Well, see ya! I’m going home!” 
     Instead, the soldier put aside his own expectations and desires in order to fulfill the hope and the longing of this suffering stranger.  
     The soldier allowed Christ's love to transfigure him;   and the soldier genuinely became a son  to the elderly man,  and gave the elderly man the devotion and com¬forting presence that the man's own son would  have given him.  
     The Lord Jesus did the same for us.  He put aside His own desires in order to fulfill our hopes: Our hopes of being freed from evil and sin.  Our hopes of enjoying life without end.  Our hopes of total communion with God.  
     Our Lord Jesus ful¬filled our hopes by suffering and dying on a Cross – a Cross carved for Him by our  sins and our betrayals.  So, 
Whenever we die to our own desires;
Whenever we die to our own expectations; 
Whenever we die to our own convenience so we can bring to life the hopes of
        others --
     We, by the power of the love of the Lord Jesus, can transfigure our small section of the world.  
     We can break down walls of evil and selfish arrogance, and overcome the limits of prejudices and labels and fears.    
     The Holy Spirit enables us -- transfigures us -- to become son, daughter, father, mother, brother, sister, friend to one another.
     On the mountaintop, "a cloud came, overshadowing Peter, James and John,  and out of the cloud came a voice: 'THIS IS MY BELOVED SON. LISTEN TO HIM.'"     We have heard Him.  Hopefully, we are listening to Him. And, now, we must live His teachings faithfully,  until we also are fully transfigured by Christ crucified and risen from the dead, when He raises us from the dead!

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