From the Pastor's Desk
The common theme of today’s readings is the transformation of Christ by the empowering of God the Father Who sent His Son as our Savior and Redeemer. Today’s Gospel describing Christ’s Transfiguration challenges us to revitalize our Faith as true disciples of Christ, just as the passages from Daniel and II Peter were written to strengthen the Faith of their audiences in times of persecution.
The first reading, taken from the Book of Daniel, presents before us Daniel’s vision of God’s glorious Heavenly Court of Judgment. The Transfiguration is a prefiguring of Christ’s glorification by God the Father in the Court of Heaven after Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven.
In the second reading, St. Peter argues in his Second Letter to the Church that the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ (at which the voice of God the Father was heard by the three apostles, verses 16-18), and the testimony of the Old Testament prophets (in the Messianic prophecies) are the guarantee of the doctrine of Christ’s Second Coming.
In the Transfiguration account in today’s Gospel, Jesus is revealed as a glorious figure, superior to Moses and Elijah. The primary purpose of Jesus’ Transfiguration was to allow Jesus to consult his Heavenly Father in order to ascertain His plan for His Son’s suffering, death and Resurrection. The secondary aim was to make his chosen disciples aware of Jesus’ Divine glory, so that they might discard their worldly ambitions and dreams of a conquering political Messiah and might be strengthened in their time of trial. On the mountain, Jesus is identified by the Heavenly Voice as the Son of God. Thus, the Transfiguration narrative is a Christophany, that is, a manifestation or revelation of Who Jesus really is. Describing Jesus’ Transfiguration, the Gospel gives us a glimpse of the Heavenly glory awaiting those who do God’s will by putting their trusting Faith in Him.
The transfiguration of bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus by transubstantiation in the Holy Mass, is the source of our strength. Just as the Transfiguration of Jesus strengthened the Apostles in their time of trial, each Holy Mass should be our source of Heavenly strength against our own temptations and our chief source for the renewal of our lives. In addition, communion with Jesus in prayer and especially in the Eucharist should be a source of daily transformation of both our minds and hearts, enabling us to love and serve Jesus in every one of our brothers and sisters with whom we come in contact each day.
Each Sacrament that we receive transforms us. Baptism, for example, transforms us into sons and daughters of God and heirs of Heaven. Confirmation makes us the temples of the Holy Spirit. By approaching the Sacrament of Reconciliation when we recognize, repenting, that we have sinned, God brings us back to the path of holiness. By receiving in Faith the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, we are spiritually, and sometimes physically, healed, and our sins are forgiven.
The Transfiguration offers us a message of hope and encouragement. In moments of doubt, pain and suffering, disappointment and despair, we need mountain-top experiences that we may reach out to God and listen to His consoling words: “This is my beloved son/daughter in whom I am well pleased.”