Saturday, February 18, 2017

What is Hoped For

Brothers and sisters: Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. Because of it the ancients were well attested. By faith, we understand that the universe was ordered by the word of God so that what is visible came into being through the invisible.  Hebrews 11:1-2

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. Mark 9:2B-6

The heavens were opened and the voice of the Father thundered:
This is my beloved Son. Listen to him. Mark 9:6

Tucked into the middle of the mild winter of our discontented ordinary time, is the Bible’s most extraordinary (IMHO) definitions of faith – one verbal in the Epistle and the other experiential in the Good News.  St. Paul explains to the Hebrews that we “must believe not only that God exists but that he is concerned about human conduct; the Old Testament defines folly as the denial of this truth.”  When that behavior does not seem to lead in the right direction, God will take extraordinary steps to get up back on track.  He sent his Son.  When that did not seem to work, he delivered the message directly.

Why does the Magisterium pair this passage from Hebrews with the Transfiguration?  The Transfiguration – as the Fourth Luminous Mystery of the Rosary – is the evidence. The Transfiguration is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen (by anyone else). Because of it, Peter, James, and John were well attested.

Well-attested indeed!  Peter, James, and John were incredulous. They were filled with shock and awe. They did not know what to do or say or feel.  First, Peter reacted to the situation by thinking, well, this is good that we are here. He wanted to do something – yet building tents, when they were enveloped by the cloud of the unknowing, was most unnecessary.  Yet, standing before Moses and Elijah, they probably also thought that this was the hour of their death.  Thus, the emotion of the moment shifted almost immediately to astonishment.    

Over the past few weeks, we have seen a particularly busy but at many times, frustrated Jesus.  Despite performing sign after sign (healing, feeding thousands, and even raising a little girl from the dead), the Pharisees have been badgering him for more evidence.  The frustration on Earth may even be mirrored in Heaven.  So, as a stimulus to direct the growth of the Apostle’s faith, the Lord God and Jesus have devised a plan for their inner circle. 

“Let’s give them a taste of the Kingdom.”  So, up the mountain they go, and their eyes and ears and hearts are opened.  The secret plan is to deliver the secret of the universe to them. And the secret is as simple as eight simple words: 


We do not need to build tents.  Or sacrifice little lambs.  Or run off to a monastery in the desert. We just need to pay attention to what was and is revealed. We just need to Listen to Jesus.

As quickly as the revelation was revealed, Peter, James and John opened their eyes and the physical world back to “normal.” However, their minds and hearts and spirits were changed forever.  Not until the Resurrection when Mary Magdalene and others encounter the Risen Christ – an image foreshadowed by the Transfigured Jesus in clothes of sizzling white: “On entering the tomb they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe, and they were utterly amazed. (Mark 16:5). 

Gone, now is the shock and terror. In its place are amazement and love! Make Mark 9:6 part of your meditation.  Close your eyes as you run this through your mind.  When you open your eyes, what do you see? If we listen to him, we will be transfigured, too!  That is what God is hoping for in all of salvation history.

Jesus and You.  Perfectly Transfigured Together!

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