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Spiritual Sight Made Pure


“Transfiguration of the self is painful since it represents sprouting downy wings that give flight to a battered soul.” ~ Kilroy J. Oldster

As we do every year on the Second Sunday of Lent, our Church today revisits the miracle of Jesus’ Transfiguration on Mount Tabor In an effort to “shed further light” on this mystery ~ a seemingly appropriate metaphor or a bad pun, whichever you prefer, Pope John Paul II bestowed upon this ethereal moment in time the privilege of being recognized as the fourth Luminous Mystery of the Holy Rosary back in 2002. It is also memorialized by way of its own Feast Day on August 6th.

The Transfiguration commemorates one of the pinnacles of Jesus' earthly life, when he revealed his divinity to three of his closest disciples, Peter, James and John, by means of a breathtaking supernatural light. As Jesus prayed upon the mountain, his appearance was changed by a brilliant white light which shone from him and from his clothing. Herein lies the first lesson to be learned from the Transfiguration. Just as Jesus prayed and was transfigured, prayer, one of the three pillars of the Lenten Season along with fasting and almsgiving, transfigures and transforms those who partake of it.

In his address before the Angelus on August 6, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI described how the events of the transfiguration display Christ as the “full manifestation of God's light.” This light, which shines forth from Christ both at the transfiguration and after his resurrection, is ultimately triumphant over “the power of the darkness of evil.” The Pope stressed that the feast of the Transfiguration is an important opportunity for believers to look to Christ as “the light of the world,” and to experience the kind of conversion which the Bible frequently describes as an emergence from darkness to light. “In our time too,” Pope Benedict said, “we urgently need to emerge from the darkness of evil, to experience the joy of the children of light!”

Peter, James and John, having been given a glimpse of the Beatific Vision, wanted to remain there, awash in the sublime bliss of its splendor. We all have an innate desire to “see God.” He reveals Himself to us by way of his Son during quiet time in prayer, ideally in front of the Blessed Sacrament. To be true disciples, one must enter into frequent dialogue with all three members of the Holy Trinity. At the mountain of his most Holy Altar, Jesus gives us glimpses of his glory by way of the Holy Eucharist. In the mountain of the Confessional Box, Jesus reveals the unending ocean of his mercy. Revelation by way of these means brings forth transformation in those who submit themselves fully to their transformative power.

We too will one day be in the Beatific Vision, ultimately rising from the ashes and dust to become denizens of the new heaven and the new earth (Revelation 21-22). Paul reminds us of this in today’s 2nd Reading (Philippians 3:17-4:1) when discussing those who are incessantly pre-occupied with earthly things. Contrary to their misguided pursuits, Paul explains that “Our citizenship is in Heaven.” Our lives should reflect this reality. If we’re not “listening to him,” as God implores us to do as it relates to His beloved Son in the waning words of today’s Gospel, we’re listening to someone else.

Let us use this Lenten Season to rise from the death of vice, spiritual indifference and self-centeredness so that we can begin to truly experience God’s Kingdom right here, right now. For in the words of author Robert Farrar Capon, “The new heavens and the new earth are not replacements for the old ones; they are transfigurations of them. The redeemed order is not the created order forsaken; it is the created order - all of it - raised and glorified.”

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“O God, who have commanded us to listen to your beloved son, be pleased, we pray, to nourish us inwardly by your word, that, with spiritual sight made pure, we may rejoice to behold your glory.” ~ Amen

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