Aug 5, 2017

Protein and Protons

Matthew 17:1-9

We now call the event we have listen to in the Gospel, the transfiguration of the Lord. We were first introduced to this incredible incident on the Second Sunday of Lent. But, the context back then was to help us get ready for Good Friday and the Cross of Christ.

The fact that the event has its own holiday in the Christian calendar, far removed from the season of Lent will remind us that Our Lord told his disciples not to tell of this event until he had been risen from the dead.  So now that we are on the far side of Easter, in the height of the summer, when our gardens are in full bloom, with a cool ocean breeze and blue August skies, we can now reflect on the Transfiguration of the Lord in a different light! Today we can do just that.

It must have been incredibly powerful to see Christ standing on that high mountain and then, all of a sudden, without warning, to witness a glorious and beautiful light shining out from every cell of his body. Even the fibers of his tunic became alive with this light and energy. The disciples were not prepared for this encounter.  In a present day setting we would presume that they would have taken out their phones to take photos of this mysterious event! But no. They were so totally unprepared, they became confused, afraid, mesmerized, by what they saw - they couldn't even get the right words out!  It was breathtakingly beautiful, powerful.

But, the disciples are very typical of us at times. We can be unfortunately driven by an impulse to have answers to everything, sometimes wanting to explain the inexplicable, filling empty space with commentary when there should be silence, seeing ghosts here and there, when there is only harmless shadows.  Rather than literary entering into and experiencing the beauty, the depths, the mystery, or the glory of a sacred moment, our natural impulse is sometimes to stay outside it, so that we can capture it in a photo, delight in it from a distance, explain it with caption, insert our own interpretation upon it, or conquer its summit with a flag.

I am reminded of Moses when he first climbed to the top of Mount Sinai, God spoke to him face to face. When the prophet came back to the camp, he didn't realize that his very own face was a give away that he had seen God. The face of Moses was transfigured in light, so much so that he had to cover his whole head with a veil in order for the people to approach him.  So, why does this not happen to Christ’s disciples? But it does.

The glory of God’s presence before us, is not always through the visible spectrum of light. As there is invisible light abundantly present in the natural world (infrared and ultraviolet, for example), so too God’s invisible light shines in all its glory whether we see it or not, it even emanates from you and me often when we do not know it.

Through our baptism into Christ’s life, the light of God’s grace is wonderfully weaved and crafted into every cell of our body. It is invisible to us, but not to God and his angels and heavenly saints. Our Christian journey affords us the time to bring forth the light of God into every dark corner of our lives and world.

And we get glimpses of this sacred light weaved into the fabric of God's creation itself, when the Holy Spirit moves us, for example, into wonder and awe of the beauty of nature, the miracle of life and giving birth, the joy of innocent heartfelt laughter, or maybe the inner sense of peace from being freed of a burden or weight. We can join our words to those of St. Peter in those sacred moments, and call out to Christ, “It is good for us to be here!”

Yes, these might be simple examples of the inner light of transfiguration that takes place within. But what Christ, the Son of Man, also shows on that mountain top, is how the power of God will also reach out and transform (transubstantiate to be exact) everyone and everything he touches with his Body - not just the fabric of his clothes or the rock of the mountain that will melt like wax, but all of creation longs to be reenergized, infused and transfigured by the glory of God. 

It all begins afresh with this bread and wine we are about to offer here on this marble mountain, where the bright candle light shines through the clouds of incense. The Good News of Jesus Christ is that, maybe just as we once experienced in the innocence and timelessness of our childhood, a day will come for the pure of heart, when summer will truly last forever. Or as St. Peter more eloquently says in our second reading, "until day dawns and the morning star rises in your heart" (2 Pt.1:19)

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