Transfiguration of Christ; Transformation of Christians

This post was first published on this feast day in 2017.

For me, the narrative of the Transfiguration of Jesus is one of the most mysterious in the Gospels.

At the top of Mount Tabor, Peter, James and John were allowed a vision of Jesus in the company of major Old Testament prophets, Moses and Elijah. His position at their center, along with the command of the Father to listen to him, emphasized Jesus’ authority and supreme holiness. No wonder the apostles were astonished and wanted to stay there indefinitely! They had already, through Peter, announced their belief that Jesus was the promised one of God, the Messiah. The Transfiguration vision cemented that belief.

But there is another aspect to this vision that touches us personally.

Jesus, fully human and fully divine, allowed his apostles to observe his divinity. What they were also observing (but weren’t yet ready to understand) was their own eventual transformation into the very image of the divine, since through Christ we are made children and heirs of the Father.

Why did Jesus tell the Apostles to say nothing about this event until after his Resurrection? Could it be because they were far from understanding or accepting so bold a concept as our own divinization? We needed the spiritual strength and insight that would be offered to us only after the Resurrection and the Pentecost.

Are we ready even now?

The late Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner said, “[t]he Christian of the future will be a mystic, or he will not exist at all.” Mysticism, he wrote, is “a genuine experience of God emerging from the very heart of our existence.”

The Transfiguration tells us that our faith must transcend robotic habits. We aren’t meant to spend our earth-years with our eyes half-shut, stumbling through what appears to be a hopeless world. There’s too much that we’re missing if we do not open our hearts to the experience of God of which Rahner speaks.

A constant and growing search for deeper intimacy with Christ and his teachings is what will bring about our transformation into the divine, as Christ showed us and his disciples at the Transfiguration.

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“The days which begin on the feast of the Lord’s transfiguration and end on the threshold of Our Lady’s glorification provide an opportunity for the Christian faithful to reflect on God’s transforming grace at work in their lives, and to seek from the Lord whatever they need to deepen that grace not only in themselves, but indeed in the Church and world.”

These are the opening words of a Transfiguration Novena provided by Father John Colacino of Rochester. If you would like to pray this Novena starting on the Feast of the Transfiguration (August 6) and ending on the eve of the Assumption (August 14), contact me at rosaliekrajci@gmail.com

Creed for a Poor Christian

I came across this recently and want to share it with you.

I can’t understand all the things we’re supposed to believe in, and that bothers me. Most of the things – doctrines, I guess – are found in the Apostle’s Creed, and I get nervous reciting it because I’m not sure if I believe it or not. I do accept and want to practice all the things Jesus taught, especially his “new commandment”:  Love one another as I have loved you.

It’s clear that whoever wrote this was struggling with an intellectual acceptance of some doctrines in our Creed. So I’ve written a kind of poor person’s creed that doesn’t challenge the intellect, but is limited to the basics of what Jesus taught.

Creed for a Poor Christian

*   I believe in the divine Trinity: God the Father Almighty who created all things; Jesus Christ his Son and our Savior; and the Holy Spirit of Love who binds them and us together.

*   I believe in loving my neighbor as myself and as God loves us.

*   I believe in forgiving anyone who causes me pain.

*   I believe in praying for those who hurt me.

*   I believe in the truth of all that Jesus taught and modeled, and that by following his example I build up his Body, i.e., his sacred Presence in this world.

*   I believe that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit live in me at all times, and that I carry the Trinity within me to all I encounter.

*   I believe that Christ lives in every human who lives, has lived, or ever will live in this world.

*   I believe that God desires happiness and unending life for all souls he has created, and that this is why he sent his Son to teach us how to live as his children.

*   I believe that Jesus came so that we might learn how to live in harmony as children of God.

*   I believe that Christ taught what he heard from the Father and that because of these teachings he accepted rejection, cruel treatment and execution, so that we too might learn how to endure suffering and persecution and use them for our transformation into holiness.

*   I believe that, different as we are from one another, all people can and must love one another as we love God, and especially as God loves us.

*   I believe in these articles of faith and that living by them will increase the flow of grace in the world so that all will be at peace with one another.

I believe that the one thing necessary for us is obedience to God’s law of love as taught and exemplified by Christ; that his command is the most important to obey and cherish; and that doing so will draw us into an unending place of joy and love.

Amen.