Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Lord is king, the Most High over all the earth.

Reading 1
Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14

As I watched:
Thrones were set up
and the Ancient One took his throne.
His clothing was bright as snow,
and the hair on his head as white as wool;
his throne was flames of fire,
with wheels of burning fire.
A surging stream of fire
flowed out from where he sat;
Thousands upon thousands were ministering to him,
and myriads upon myriads attended him.
The court was convened and the books were opened.
As the visions during the night continued, I saw:
One like a Son of man coming,
on the clouds of heaven;
When he reached the Ancient One
and was presented before him,
The one like a Son of man received
dominion, glory, and kingship;
all peoples, nations, and languages serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
that shall not be taken away,
his kingship shall not be destroyed.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 97:1-2, 5-6, 9

R. The Lord is king, the Most High over all the earth.

The LORD is king; let the earth rejoice;
let the many islands be glad.
Clouds and darkness are round about him,
justice and judgment are the foundation of his throne.

R. The Lord is king, the Most High over all the earth.

The mountains melt like wax before the LORD,
before the LORD of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his justice,
and all peoples see his glory.
R. The Lord is king, the Most High over all the earth.

Because you, O LORD, are the Most High over all the earth,
exalted far above all gods.
R. The Lord is king, the Most High over all the earth.

Reading II
2 Peter 1:16-19

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.

For he received honor and glory from God the Father
when that unique declaration came to him from the majestic glory,
“This is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven
while we were with him on the holy mountain.

Moreover, we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable.
You will do well to be attentive to it,
as to a lamp shining in a dark place,
until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

Mark 9:2-10

Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother John,
and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.

And he was transfigured before them,
and his clothes became dazzling white,
such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.
Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses,
and they were conversing with Jesus.

Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Rabbi, it is good that we are here!
Let us make three tents:
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.
Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them;
from the cloud came a voice,
“This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”

Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone
but Jesus alone with them.

As they were coming down from the mountain,
he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone,
except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
So they kept the matter to themselves,
questioning what rising from the dead meant.

+++ +++ +++ +++

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, a brief moment in time when the glory of the Risen Lord is revealed to three of his Apostles. At first, they are terrified, then Peter totally misunderstands the meaning of the event, and eventually, Jesus leaves them, still confused as to what “rising from the dead” means.

By the time Peter wrote his Second Epistle, he was beginning to understand the meaning of the resurrection. As Christians, we do not rely on cleverly devised myths about the power of Our Lord, but on the testimony of an eyewitness, who has seen Jesus in the fullness of his glory, and heard the voice of the LORD declaring, “This is my Son, my beloved, in whom I am well pleased.” He encourages us to be attentive to the prophetic message he, and the other witnesses, apostles , evangelists, and writers of epistles, have passed on to the generations to come, from the First Century to the Twenty-First.

On the other hand, like all of the Christian mysteries, the Transfiguration of the Lord is not only about Jesus, but about us. It must make a discernable difference in our own life today.

During the three years since Jesus had chosen Andrew and his brother Peter, James and his brother John, as the first of his disciples, he had become well known to them, or so they thought. But in this moment, he was so transformed – transfigured – that they scarcely recognized him. Why? Because his Divinity shone through his resurrected body, revealing depths of his person that they could never have imagined. Once upon a time, a little girl was asked what a saint was, and she replied, thinking of the stained glass windows of the church, “Someone who lets the light shine through.” Can this be more than a image? Could you and I allow the light of Christ to shine through? Or are we so aware of our weakness and imperfection that we are ill at ease with such considerations? Yet, as Paul reminds us in one of his epistles, the material of transfiguration is these “wretched bodies of ours”.

Some time ago, on a visit to the Trappist Monastery of the Holy Cross in Berryville, Virginia, I purchased a beautiful book, The Illustrated Rumi, A Treasury of Wisdom from the Poet of the Soul. In a poem called “The Sunrise Ruby", Jelaluddin Rumi (1207-1273), a Sufi mystic, writes of a lover who asks her beloved,

 “Do you love me more than yourself?

He responds: “More than myself?
For sure, I have no self anymore –
I am you already.
The “I” has gone, the “you” has come about.

Even my identity is gone.
I am like a ruby held up to the sunrise.
Is it still a stone, or a world made of redness?
It has no resistance to sunlight.”

There it is: in one way it is a stone; in another, a world of redness. This gives some impression of what transfiguration means. When you are completely absorbed as you look at the night sky, or the sea, or a friend, you are still yourself, of course; but you are more than yourself. At any rate, you are a sort of larger self, not the petty self that speaks before thinking, and counts pennies, and always looks out for its own self-interest .

Sadly, this perspective on the Christian faith is not as familiar to most of us as it ought to be. We have accustomed ourselves to settle for less. Most of us believe that they best things are not for them, because we don’t deserve them. Yet, each and all of us have been called by God to enlightenment in this life, and union with Him in the next life. He would not have made that call if we were not capable of answering it.

The Feast of the Transfiguration invites us to conform ourselves to Christ our Lord. As we peer at the glory which pours out from every pore of the transfigured Christ, we cast off everything unworthy of our personal relationship with the Infinite, and we take on the luster of the Son of God. Jesus gazes back at us with a luminous look of love that makes us desire to live in his translucent beauty – to be beacons of the light. From Tabor’s peak, the Savior calls us, “Become what you behold!”

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