Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, August 6
May Each of Us, in the Very Throes of Whatever Pain or Anxiety We May Feel, Through Whatever Vale of Tears We May Find Ourselves Traveling, Never Lose Heart, Never Lose Faith.
Today, the Eternal Father speaks to us through the Gospel message, “This is my chosen Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” And in the Transfiguration event recorded in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus reaches out to Peter, James and John, and to each of us as well, and says, “Rise, and do not be afraid.”
“…do not be afraid” – in the context within which we hear these words, they are an invitation to hope, and invitation to an interior peace and joy.
“…do not be afraid.” Sometimes, while watching a TV commercial, paid for by some non-profit organization, we will find ourselves presented with images of the plight of starving children and the sick and the dying in some poor, underdeveloped nation. Or if we watch the evening or nightly news, we are oftentimes presented with a story about some unfortunate child who became victim to the crossfire between rival street gangs or drug dealers. Or we see the anxiety and fear on the faces of innocent victims due to internal warfare or genocide on the part of some government or rival clan or tribe.
For some in our world today, it is extremely difficult not to be afraid. It is very difficult for them to feel safe in a world which is oftentimes filled with horrific dangers, and cultures which are more self-serving than selfless, and people, who are in a position of authority or decision-making, caring more about themselves than those for whom they should be caring and who suffer from hunger and disease.
The lives of the innocent, due to no fault of their own, end up becoming victims to the evils which exist within society’s darkness, a darkness which is void, which is absent of any real glimmer of hope, because the hearts of many within this darkness are opened only to selfishness, greed and the false glamour which evil itself seems to provide, a lie with which Satan fills the hearts of those who thrive in the darkness, using the darkness as a means to their own ends.
The only REAL hope which these innocent victims have is the Eternal Hope which Christ Himself provides for us. And we find this Eternal Hope in today’s celebration of the Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord!
And this Hope, which Peter tells us in our Second Reading, is as “a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” And this “morning star”, this new day dawning is Christ Jesus, Himself!
Our Catechism teaches us that the virtue of hope responds to that aspiration, that deeply seated desire which we all have for happiness, a desire which God has placed in the heart of each of His children, who are opened to and accepting of God’s grace.
It continues to teach us that the virtue of hope not only inspires us, but it also purifies us as we long for the Kingdom of Heaven, for it prevents us from falling prey to discouragement, to pessimism and despair, and that God’s grace sustains us during times in which we feel alone or abandoned.
And this grace is described to us in Daniel’s vision which we find in our First Reading today from the Book of the Prophet Daniel, “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.”
And is this not reason for hope – a sacred Kingdom, a holy Dominion which shall last forever?!
But for those who are truly suffering, for those who live in despair, they ask themselves, “When is the dawning of this new day coming? Where is this “everlasting dominion?” And can you or I blame them for asking? For, in their human needs, in their human anxieties, they are in great pain and distress. Hope for them oftentimes seems elusive at best.
And it is during these moments of their deepest fears and their greatest despair wherein the missionary Church reaches out to them, nourishing them with God’s Word and the Bread of Eternal Life, strengthening their faith and guiding their hearts and their lives to live a hope which, once before, seemed almost impossible to achieve.
When our Lord was transfigured, on what is presumably Mount Tabor, He had chosen Peter, James and his brother John to witness the Christ, the Son of Man, in His Glory as the Eternal Son of God, conversing with both Moses, who was the great lawgiver and the great prophet Elijah.
This event, in all its glorious wonder, I am sure, left the disciples completely awestruck! Even, Peter, not knowing what to really say, and in the honest simplicity and the straightforwardness which was Peter’s nature, could only inquire about setting up tents for the Heavenly figures in which they could rest or retire – an offer which I am sure has made many a theologian smile, and yet it was an offer made out of the goodness of his heart, and all due to the awesomeness of this unforgettable event!
And then, in the midst of being captivated by this great experience, they hear a voice from Heaven, and they become fearful. And in our Gospel today, it states that they lay prostrate, face-down on the ground. And why were they overcome with such fear in the presence of their Lord, whom they had followed for almost three years at this point?
Because in their human weaknesses, not unlike our own, not unlike our own fears and anxieties which each of us feels at one time or another, they were not able to fully comprehend the meaning behind all that was truly happening in their presence on the mountain.
And we cannot blame them for their fear and human shortcomings, any more than we can blame the innocent victims who are fearful or filled with anxiety who live in countries where famine, disease or appalling violence exist, or who live in the inner cities of developed nations where crime is high and the respect for human life is low.
And Jesus walked to His disciples and touched them, just as He walks to each of us in the midst of our own fears and anxieties, in the midst of our own trials and tribulations in this life, in this – our valley of tears – and touching us says, “Rise, and do not be afraid.”
Proclaiming that we have faith, but then truly living our faith, truly exercising what we believe in our daily lives, is sometimes much more difficult.
It was after our Lord was transfigured that He began His final journey to Jerusalem, where He freely accepted His Passion and Death, and we know what Scripture tells us about how His Apostles lived their faith during this time of His greatest agony.
Again, we recognize in their humanity, and in their weaknesses, our own shortcomings and inadequacies. And yet, it is the glory of the Transfiguration in which Jesus shows to each of us that He IS the Eternal Son of God!
It is the glory and wonder of the very presence of Heaven itself, it is in the very presence of our Eternal Father’s voice giving glory and praise to His Son – all of this which fills our hearts with a hope, a joyful anticipation in something far beyond our human ability to adequately explain or understand, for it is an experience which we are yet to realize, with the help of God’s grace.
May each of us, as God’s children – in the very throes of whatever pain or anxiety we may feel, through whatever vale of tears we may find ourselves traveling – never lose heart, never lose faith.
As Saint Padre Pio was so fond of saying, “Pray, hope and don’t worry”, may we make his phrase a part of our daily lives, always remembering our Lord’s words of strengthening and hope which He gives to each of us, no matter where we may find ourselves spiritually, emotionally or physically –
– “Rise, and do not be afraid.” †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “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, He 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” (Daniel 7:13-14)
- “While [Peter] was still speaking, a cloud came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my chosen Son; listen to him.’” (Luke 9:34-35)
- “…then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.’ When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Rise, and do not be afraid.’” (Matthew 17:5b-7)
- “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.” (2 Peter 1:19)
- “At dawn let me hear of your kindness, for in you I trust. Show me the path I should walk, for to you I entrust my life.” (Psalm 143:8)
- “One night in a vision the Lord said to Paul, ‘Do not be afraid…for I am with you.’” (Acts 18:9ab, 10a)
- “Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)
- “Therefore, do not throw away your confidence; it will have great recompense. You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what he has promised.” (Hebrews 10:35-36)
- “Let us hold unwaveringly to our confession that gives us hope, for he who made the promise is trustworthy.” (Hebrews 10:23)
- “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn…you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.” (John 16:20acd)
- “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)
Prayer for the Day
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;Psalm 23 (Psalm of the Good Shepherd)
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”