A Time of Spiritual Transformation
Today the Church lifts up for contemplation the mystery of the Transfiguration of the Lord. The Gospels tell us how shortly after Jesus spoke of his coming Passion, he led Peter, James and John up Mount Tabor to pray. There Jesus “was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light” (Matthew 17:2; see also Mark 9:2-3; Luke 9:29).
The Lord, who is “the light of the world” (John 8:12), gave these three Apostles a short glimpse of God’s power within him that they otherwise would not see. Jesus was a man, yet he is also “God from God, Light from Light.” He looked and acted like a man, but in this moment his witnesses were allowed to see something of the divine glory of God shining through his human nature (cf. Revelation 1:14-16). The Lord was seen speaking with Moses and Elijah, who embody the Law and the Prophets, and then a cloud came and a heavenly voice was heard declaring, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him” (Matthew 17:5).
The Transfiguration of the Lord, revealing him in his glory, is a mystery that was not fully grasped by the Apostles at the time and even now is one that engenders wonder. Yet what we can see is how it teaches us our own destiny in God’s plan. By our communion with the Lord, we also are meant to be “transfigured,” to be transformed. This change will happen in a definitive way at the resurrection, when we rise again and are glorified in Christ, but the beginnings of this transformation can happen now.
We want to go in the right direction and follow that path that God tells us will bring us to life everlasting. This starts with turning toward Jesus, and asking him to show us what in our own lives needs to be transformed. Open to the work of the Holy Spirit in us, we become children of light.
As we prepare for the visit of Pope Francis in September, this can and should be a time of spiritual renewal. In other words, before our beloved guest arrives, it would be good to clean up our spiritual home.
One of the frequent messages of our Holy Father is that Jesus wants to give us his healing forgiveness, and so this would be a good time to consider seeking God’s mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The word of God assures us that though our sins be like scarlet, we shall be transformed, we shall be made white as snow by God’s merciful love (Isaiah 1:18). The Lord never hesitates or tires of forgiving, so let us never hesitate or tire of asking for forgiveness, Pope Francis often says.
We all need this mercy of God, affirms Pope Francis, “It is a wellspring of joy, serenity and peace. Our salvation depends on it” (Misericordiae Vultus, 2). Furthermore, our lives thus “transfigured by God’s presence,” we need to share the Good News of Christ’s merciful love with others (Evangelii Gaudium, 259).
In the Transfiguration, where we see the glory of God embodied in Jesus, we are called to recognize the unfolding of the grace of the Spirit. The Apostles Peter, James and John came down from Mount Tabor aware that they had received a unique revelation, but also that they were still very much in need of their own commitment each and every day to keep alive in their heart the flame of faith.
That is what you and I do in our daily conversion and every time we pray, every time we ask the Lord in Confession to forgive us our sins and fan into flame the ember of faith burning in our heart. In this way, we are transformed by the light of Christ and the kingdom of God comes to be in and through each of us.