The Transfiguration

Jesus the Heavenly High Priest

SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT
LENTEN SEASON YR. B – WKII

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John, leading them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. – Mark 9:2-3 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Catholic Edition (NRSVACE)

The Transfigured Christ

 A Glimpse of Glory

Many times in my life especially as a child I wondered what life would be like when I grew up. I wondered what I would look like, sound like, and or how much my personality would have changed as an adult. I often would be laying down in my bed wishing I could hit a fast-forward button and be an adult. Of course, I never wanted the responsibilities of an adult just the respect, glory without the pain, and stature without hardship. When I read (Mark 9:2-3) it reminds me of those moments because as flawed, broken, human beings uncertain of what is coming down the line in our future it is always better to receive the prize before we run the race. It is human nature to wish we could avoid the hardship and glimpse the end result. My grandma Stark called this, ‘having your dessert before fixing your dinner.’ 

See my brothers and sisters Jesus took Peter, James, and John up high upon the mountain out of sight from the others to give them a glimpse of the end result, the glorified Christ, and a taste of Heaven backed up by two of the greatest prophets in human history. But as flawed human beings the three disciples though in awe, was filled with fear, and so missed the bigger picture until much later. Jesus wanted to give them comfort in the knowledge that His death was not pointless, that He would conquer the world, not be conquered. Jesus wanted to strengthen them for the hardships to come. Remember, what they had been through up to this point and what miracles they had seen. From His baptism to Jesus feeding the five thousand, the earthly temptation of the Pharisees who had demanded a sign from heaven all of which was sure to test Him. From there Jesus cures a blind man from Bethsaida, then on a beach of the dead sea Peter declares Jesus the Messiah. But most assuredly what was on all their minds was what their rabbi had predicted about the ‘Son of Man’, which by now all of them agreed was Jesus, (Matthew 16:21Jesus’s emphatic, heartfelt, and detailed description about His own suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection. In a reflection of this moment, perhaps it was His certainty that this was God’s plan for Him, that it must be done which struck the deepest cord of concern in the disciple’s hearts. None of them wanted Jesus to leave them, in fact, they wanted to go with Him, they all wanted the fruits before the labor. Perhaps, the three who went with Jesus saw the glory and power of their Lord but failed at that moment to see the true High Preist that would reign in Heaven forever. Maybe, they concluded Jesus didn’t have to suffer, die, and be raised from the dead, so in their innocents, they offered to erect three tents so this moment would never pass them bye. The three disciples reacted in a very human way, wanting to hold onto the moment rather than to embrace the hardship that would lead to this transfigured Jesus. Very much as I had wanted to be an adult before my time but without the heartache and pain of making the real world sometimes agonizing, dreadful, and sensitive decisions that all adults have to make.

Jesus – The Real-World Teacher

The Sermon on the Mount, Block 1890

As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean. – Mark 9:9-10 (NRSVACE)

After 15 plus years in the classroom, 22 years of being a parent, and all my life being a student there are times I have given real-world examples or have been asked questions pertaining to a real-world scenario and just simply come up empty-handed. There have been times I have questioned my parents, teachers, ex-spouse, bosses, my only child, and or I have been put on the spot and still are left with more questions than answers though the real, less complicated, and the most logical answer was always right there before me. So, I can relate to Peter, James, and John as they came down from the mountain. Though they saw who Jesus was, what He would transform into after suffering and dying, they still did not connect the dots to His resurrection. I would have loved to have lived during this period and heard the questions about this resurrection Jesus was talking about. All this time spent watching Jesus perform miracles they did not connect the phrases He was using, or perhaps they did understand but refused to believe it out of love for Jesus as their desire was to be with Him forever on this earth. Ironically, it is this same stubborn human desire of Peters that was the cause of him being scorned by Jesus, (Matthew 16:23) just prior to the trip up the mountain and the same unwavering human impulse to question things that should be obvious. I truly believe that even if Jesus had given them a mental flash-forward they still would question it’s real-world relevance to them in their own lives; though I have to admit the transfiguration was an infinitely better visually.

The Message of the Transfiguration

24-25 You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. – 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 The Message (MSG)

Perhaps one of the most overstated things people hear in church is, ‘God so loved the world… ,’ (John 3:16-18). But nevertheless, my brothers and sisters God indeed loved us so much he sent His only son, but on the flip side of this coin, ‘God did not spare his own Son but gave Him up for us all.’The Liturgy of the Hours, pg.294. With that said, the medal we win after living our life for Christ is one of eternal value, running on behalf of our brothers who cannot run, morally defending those who struggle mentally or spiritually, and standing up against injustice which is so prevalent in our world. We can live for others, changing their lives for the better, and giving the example of grace which brings those we touch to Christ. In a way, Jesus showed the true person He is, the true self we all have within, and the eternal reward we run so hard for and run too. See my brothers and sisters the message behind the transfiguration is one of hope and rejuvenation in the life to come. It was the promise of God that salvation is real, that He means what He says, that His covenant stands and is binding.  At that moment Jesus is saying, “Here I Am!”, He is lighting the pathway, revealing Himself in such a way no one could ever deny His divinity and purity of heart and to truly find Him we must listen faithfully to the words He speaks to our hearts that will guide us throughout our lives. Our Lord and Saviour had proven His connection to Heaven while standing next to Moses and Elijah. The symbology for the Jewish people was unmistakable for Moses representing God’s divine law and Elijah representing all the prophets, both symbolizing the Old and Jesus the New. The dividing line between both halves of the story as it unfolds in real time, as one covenant ends and a new one begins. The rejuvenation of God’s promises, His Law, His love and mercy through His only Son which He stated clearly for all to hear when Jesus was baptized;

Matthew testified;   

17 “And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’” – Matthew 3:17 (NRSVCE)

Earlier I had said that the three disciples did not fully understand the transfiguration of Christ until much later, after the events of Pentecost. But when they did get it, this is what two of them wrote;

John testified; 

14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. – John 1:14 (NRSVCE)

Peter sometime later testified:

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.” – 2 Peter 1:16-18 (NRSVCE) 

Let Us Pray

God our Father, help us to hear your Son. Enlighten us with your word, that we may find the way to your glory. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.    – The Liturgy of the Hours, pg.295.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.

May the Lord bless you, protect you from all evil and bring you to everlasting life.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saint Joseph, Pray for us.Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

Amen, Alleluia

Now go spread the word!

Reaffirming Our Mission

To Always Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

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Transformation – My Brother’s Keeper

Chair of Saint Peter the Apostle

Feast Day 2018
LENTEN SEASON YR. B

“Since the fourth century, the feast of the Chair of Peter has been celebrated at Rome as a sign of the unity of the Church founded upon that apostle.” – Proper of Saints, pg. 1095.

18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. – Matthew 16:18 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)

Guiding Question: How has God transformed your life, made you the example of change to others?

In our life, before meeting God for the first time we are unmistakingly human, flawed, corrupt, with sin written in blood on our foreheads.  Lies are easy as they come forth with such splendor and detail. We are operating on the basic level with little conscience and little desire to change. Our needs are met on the basic level, food, water, companionship, with very little loyalties or commitments to anyone or thing. We are like a hunk of clay unformed lacking detail and filled with many wants and desires. Take Peter for instance, before God he fished for a living, followed in his father’s footsteps with no desire to do anything other than fish. Peter had a family, but they were not what motivated him rather they were his duty, not his motivation. Peter before God was just like every other man of his age, rough around the edges, no more or less interesting, and he lived like everyone else from catch to catch never getting ahead in life. In comparison to what he would become Peter lead a life based upon just the basic requirements complete with basic needs and wants, quite boring really.  No one would have ever looked at him and thought, ‘hum, this man I will build my church upon.’ For there was not a religious bone in his body.

But after God, Peter was quite different indeed, see his life was no longer just a basic ordinary life that everyone else in the world was living. No sir! Peter’s heart though still filled with sin was set aflame and the light of God burned deep inside him. His mind had stopped thinking about the concerns of an everyday life of a fisherman and instead was focused on the salvation of all mankind. He intently watched everything Jesus did and said, wrote some of it down, then when Jesus had shared His fate on the cross Peter didn’t want Jesus to go, though His heart in the right place his humanity he allowed to take over. On Gethsemane when Jesus was betrayed Peter pulled a sword, in Jerusalem when the crowd recognized him Peter lied three times and denied knowing Jesus. From that moment until Christ appeared Peter was operating out of fear, suspicion, and deep shame. Then when Jesus asked him three times, ‘Peter do you love me?’ Peter three times said yes and just like that Peter went from a sinner to a Saint. Peter allowed God in and became the rock of which Jesus build the modern day Catholic Church upon.  Peter underwent an incredible transformation and what is so exciting about this story is that all of us can also undergo this same transformation if only we allow God in.

Change in the Modern World

Tribute to Billy Graham 1919-2018

My dear brother’s and sister’s truly I say to you we can be transformed and become the catalyst of change for other people. All we have to do is look around and see how badly this world needs to change. A good example of a person changing and then driving change in the world is the young men and women of Parkland, Florida who refuse to go another day with allowing semi-automatic firearms to be sold. How about Billy Graham who past away today at the age of 99 and who shared the gospel with more people than any other modern-day preacher but yet he too needed to be converted, transformed, and molded. This special person as the story goes was his Sunday School Teacher when he was just a boy who told him,

“You can count the apples on the tree, but who can count the apples in a seed?” goes the old aphorism.

We can’t forget Saint Augustine’s conversion as it is found in the Province of Our Mother of Good Counsel of the Augustinian Order website, “Augustine’s life as a young man was characterized by loose living and a search for answers to life’s basic questions.” par. 1 One day he heard a child singing a song, “Pick it up and read it. Pick it up and read it.” After some discernment, Augustine reasoned it was a command from God to pick up the bible and read it. So he did and read the first thing he saw,

Not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual excess and lust, not in quarreling and jealousy. Rather, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh. Romans 13: 13-14

It was this Scripture that changed his life forever, and like Peter, the Students of Parkland, Florida, Billy Graham and thousands of others became a pillar of positive change within the world.

“Do you love me?” asks Jesus. Our Lord and Saviour is the example of what grace in leadership is all about, from parenting which starts and ends with love to a manager of a corporation who can exhibit dignity in the workplace, and to the leaders in Washington who can if they want to build fairness and security into every law. Saint Peter is celebrated as is many others because they emulated Jesus Christ, in heart, mind, body, and soul and through them led thousands to a transformation, they truly were their brother’s keeper and those they impacted came to Jesus on their knees in praise. See my brother’s and sister’s each and every one of those examples can be that one special instance in someone’s life that turns them to God, allows them to open up their heart just enough, and to fill their whole body with the Holy Spirit giving them the ability to answer that one fundamental question Jesus is asking,  “Do you love me?”. 

Let Us Pray

All-powerful Father, you have built your Church on the rock of Saint Peter’s confession of faith. May nothing divide or weaken our unity in faith and love. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.

May the Lord bless you, protect you from all evil and bring you to everlasting life.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saint Joseph, Pray for us.Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

Amen, Alleluia

Now go spread the word!

Reaffirming Our Mission

To Always Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

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“Let’s grow together as children of God”

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Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2018