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Listen To Him! - The Transfiguration

    This weekend, is a rare weekend that we get to celebrate during the Sunday liturgies of Ordinary Time. We celebrate the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Typically, this feast always lands on August 6th and this year it landed on a Sunday. The church has a hierarchy of  which masses is to be said on which days in the case that multiple feasts, or celebrations land on the same day. For instance today, we have the 18th Sunday Of Ordinary Time and The transfiguration. However, since this feast is a feast of the Lord, it takes precedence  over the Sunday of Ordinary time. So, we are treated with the readings and celebration of the transfiguration

     As my airplane was coming in to land in El Salvador a couple years ago, I looked out my plane window and saw a large mountain right in the center of the country. The peak was just barely above the clouds and it broke through the clouds surrounding it. For the first time in my life, as I looked out that window, I saw a mountain in person. As I looked out my window, I instantly became breathless and said one simple word, " Wow."

The mountain that broke through the clouds... (Looked cooler in person)

    As the trip continued we went and stayed in brick cabins just outside the rural town we were working in. When we opened the door of our cabin there was a mountain range staring at us filled with lush vegetation and a mango tree just outside our door. Every morning I would wake up early and just sit outside, stare at the mountain and contemplate and pray in front of this amazing view.

    The Gospel begins with Jesus bringing the three disciples who he first called high up on a mountain. Then, when they get there, he is transfigured before them. His face shone and his clothes were bright. As the disciples watched this event unfold, Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus and begin to talk with him. The Gospel concludes with God speaking from above and saying " This is my Son, the beloved, with him I am well pleased; listen to him!"

    Matthews gospel was written to a Jewish community and Matthew, understanding and knowing what the Jewish faith held, tries to show how Jesus is the fulfillment of the Torah. Acknowledging this fact, Matthews uses many rich images, ideas and phrases that were of basic knowledge to the the community and he gave no explanation for them. Today, would be such a text, infused and highlighted with many images and ideas of Jewish history up to that point.

Related image

     The mountain has always been that place of mystery, divinity, and has been seen as the connection between heaven and earth. This is a fact all throughout history, from the ancient Greeks and Romans, to even us as Catholics. Upon the mountain God communicated with Moses and gave him the ten commandments. It was such a special and intense experience that Moses would have to shield his face among the people because it shone in such a bright and marvelous way.

    As Jesus climbed the mountain, his face shone like the sun. He was transfigured atop that mountain into his glorious form that he had when he was in heaven. Giving these disciples a taste of the heavenly realms that is yet to come.

    Then Moses and Elijah show up talking peacefully with Jesus. Moses, representing the law given from God, and Elijah representing the prophets. Both of these men, who had gone in mysterious ways were always believed to have a role at the end of times, and here they are with Jesus in the showing of his glory.

    An intriguing line within this narrative is the line spoken from God, " This is my son, the blessed, with whom I am well pleased; Listen to him!" This phrase reminds us of the phrase the God spoke at the baptism of Jesus saying " This is my Son, my beloved; with him I am well pleased."  All the thousands of laws required at the time of Christ, were rules to be pleasing to God. There goal was to make sacrifices, and live lives that were pleasing to God. Your goal, essentially, was to please God. So with God speaking that with Jesus, he is well pleased, it shows that what Jesus is doing is correct, acceptable and right. At the time of the transfiguration Jesus was on his was to Jerusalem for his passion, so he had caused controversy, set a new way of life, and had preformed many miracles. All of these were different to what was being practiced and thus, this new way was pleasing to God.

    Then again, God added this time, " Listen to him."  To listen, was to find wisdom, seek advice, and to learn from someone much greater than yourself. By listening you learn and are obedient. So God calls us to listen to his Son, whom he has set apart, who although his ways are challenging and strange from what we are use to we are to listen too and follow through.

    Listen to him.

    The words of Christ are a challenge, they force us to constantly be moving and not being complacent in faith. The words of Christ are the words that force us to feed them with what we already have, to turn the cheek, to forgive our enemies and not to judge. The words of Jesus transform and grow in the person who truly listens to him, with all that they are. These words grow and form a person to become more like Christ when they are truly heard and understood in our hearts.

     A heart that has listened and understood the word is one  that accept the message and consume it fully, allowing the effects to take place.  The understanding heart is one that has total trust in the words spoken and allow these new words to outshine the words of our own heart. That within allowing Christ to speak so profoundly in us, we accept where the words lead us, even if it is in the most unimaginable, most uncomfortable places.

    The will of God, spoken and lived through the person Jesus Christ, is powerful and filled with an abundance of righteousness and joy. For Christ is constantly calling us to be something more, to do something greater, to be someone better, and this transfiguration of us and our hearts can only occur with the grace of God.

 Listening to Jesus, means we too will be transfigured. Our lives will become transfigured into the bright light of joy and life that this dark and dying world needs. Truly listening to Christ means allowing God to use our  life for his good will- for his purpose, even when it is difficult and challenging.  Through the transfiguration of our hearts we too become a Christ to the world.

We first must find Christs message, listen to it, and fully apply it to our lives, then we too are transfigured to that of Christ, and become an example of Christ to the world!

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