Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Transfiguration: More Than Just a Man

Second Sunday of Lent, 2015:

Second Sunday of Lent, 2015

By Deacon Lawrence N. Kaas
March 1, 2015

This year we hear St. Mark's account of the Transfiguration. The event took place a few weeks before Jesus would travel to Jerusalem to suffer and die. The Transfiguration has a three fold purpose: it was intended for Jesus himself, for the Apostles, and for each of us.

For our Lord, the Transfiguration was His early preparation for His own passion and death. Luke tells us that our Lord was praying, probably in the evening. Then something happens instantaneously: Jesus is "transfigured." His body changes and His clothing becomes "dazzling white." His divine nature, which He has kept carefully hidden until now, shines through His human nature.

Then, Moses and Elijah appear. It was the consistent Jewish belief that when the Messiah appeared, He would be accompanied by these two historical figures. Why them? Because the Jews at the time of Christ believed that Moses and Elijah were the only two people whose bodies had been assumed into the next life. Elijah's body was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind. And ancient book, titled "of the Assumption of Moses," it told of the devil trying to use Moses' body for some sinister purpose. As a result, Saint Michael came and snatched Moses' body away from the devil and took it to heaven. In addition, Moses and Elijah stood for things. Moses was the great lawgiver, bringing God's law to men. Elijah was the great prophet, the voice of God providing direction, guidance and wisdom. These two men were the greatest figures in Israel's history, and they came to speak with our Lord during the Transfiguration. They spoke to Jesus of His departure--in Greek, His exodus---which He was to accomplish in Jerusalem. As he approached Jerusalem, the great lawgiver the great prophet appeared to encourage Jesus so that He would completely fulfill all the law-giving and prophecy of the Old Testament.

As God, Jesus needed no encouragement. As man, however, he needed encouragement. His sacrifice, His passion and death, were going to be bloody, and an excruciatingly painful experience. Not even the God-man would want to endure it. These two Old Testament figures came to offer consolation and encouragement for the upcoming trial of His life.

After Moses and Elijah encouraged Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit appears in the cloud. The cloud is one way God frequently appears to people in the Old Testament (remember the cloud that led the Hebrews out of Egypt). In this cloud the Father called Jesus His "beloved son". The cloud, also often represents the holiness.

The Transfiguration was also for the apostles. Peter, James, and John were the leaders of the 12. Jesus will also bring these three closest to him during the agony in the garden. None of the Apostles had been happy, hearing a few days earlier that their Lord was going to Jerusalem to suffer and die. They complained about it, to no avail. So Jesus took them up on the mountain to witnesses Transfigured Glory. The Transfiguration gave Peter, James, and John greater insight into who Jesus really was. God the Father told them to listen to Jesus. The Transfiguration also gave these three Apostles hope by providing a window into the future. And they, in turn, reassured the rest of the Apostles about what was to come. Although no one really knew how painful our Lord's agony would be. It would help at the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost--50 days after the Resurrection--that the Apostles really could start to understand everything that happened to Jesus, as to what He had been telling them. Finally, the Transfiguration account is meant for all of us. It shows us that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of everything God did for His people, especially through the law and the prophets of the Jewish religion during the thousands of years between the creation of Adam and Eve, and the Annunciation, at which the Blessed Mother said, "May it be done according to your word."

The Transfiguration teaches us that our Lord Jesus is not just a man, not just the teacher, not just the great moral leader. He is also God, Himself, the second person of the Blessed Trinity, God-in-the-flesh. But as a man, in His human nature, as a human being, He underwent a tremendous sacrifice to die for us so that each of us could share in His life and glory forever, after our earthly lives are ended. He wants to transfigured every one of us, too, if we cooperate with him. So we need to heed the Lords voice, and obey his commands.

We do that by listening, by being active members of his Mystical Body, the Church; by obeying His teachings and morals; by living our faith--the seven Sacraments, especially the Eucharist-- our personal Mt. Tabor experience with prayer, and carrying our crosses with Him. And we don't just do that one day a week, or occasionally when we feel like it, or when it's convenient or easy.

The Transfiguration reminds us that our Catholic religion is not just for special occasions, like Sundays, or when we are in serious need; not just up on the mountain, like midnight Mass at Christmas, Easter Sunday, or an Ordination to the Priesthood. Catholicism is supposed to permeate every part of our lives, and touch everything we say and do. We may fail from time to time, but we have to keep trying to live as Jesus taught.

If we lived by the teachings of Jesus, after our lives on earth are ended, we will get our own Transfiguration. And we are going to change to "dazzling white" like a very bright light, too. We will be beautiful and handsome, without spot, wrinkle, blemish, or any disfigurement; we will be in perfect shape, like an Olympic athlete, only to a greater extent than we can possibly fathom. May the Blessed mother, who bore the light of the world in her womb, pray for us that we will open our minds and hearts to the light. Amen.

So you all be Good, be Holy, preach the Gospel always using words and holy actions and be faithful to the Gospel!

'Thank you' to Deacon Kaas, for letting me post his reflection here.

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