Sunday, August 5, 2012

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord

Seems hard to believe that it is already August.  I arrived here before Lent.  Tomorrow is the Transfiguration, a feast that is fixed on 6 August.   I am celebrating the 6:30 AM Mass in the community.  Because I have a particularly strong attachment to this feast I chose to preach on the feast rather than the particular readings for today.   The reason will become obvious by the end.

The transfiguration appears in all three synoptic Gospels.  There are some relatively minor differences across the three accounts but the main personae and content are consistent.  Jesus’ transfiguration points us towards, and draws us into, a mystery that is beyond the reach of historical reconstruction, scientific explanation or geographic specificity. 

Make a composition of place and application of senses.   Moses and Elijah, the Law and the Prophets, are there with Jesus. 

Where are you standing? 
What do you see? 
What do you feel? 

As he became increasingly anxious Peter began to speak.

What do you fear?
What do you desire?

Despite the popular fashion for apostle bashing in theology and other circles, none of us would have responded any better.  Most likely, we would have acted worse.  Perhaps we would have pulled out the Ancient Near East equivalent of a cell phone and snapped pictures to tweet to the rest of the apostles.  Or perhaps we would have merely babbled incoherently.  As the tension of the scene increased the voice of God the Father confirmed  that Jesus is who Peter had confessed him to be earlier in the Gospel:

The Messiah.
The Anointed One.
The Christ.

Then the apostles, and by extension each of us, were given a mission, "Listen to him."  How does that play out in the context of today, a day on which we recall more than the Transfiguration?  

Today we recall another event marked by blinding light.  An event that was also overshadowed by a cloud.  Like the Transfiguration, it is a scene that, if you are willing to place yourself into it, would cast you to the ground in fear or awe. 

Today we commemorate that Jesus revealed his Divinity on a mountain.  We also commemorate that on this date in 1945 the human race revealed its depravity at Hiroshima.  The world would never be the same.  Hiroshima captured the sum total of the depravity of the human race.  Not the depravity of a particular nation, or ethnic group, or epoch of history but the sum total of human sinfulness.  It took the horrors of the wars of the past millennia and those of the millennia to come, and condensed them into one singular event.  This time God did not speak.  There was a terrible silence. Or was there?
The voice of God was obscured by the explosion.  It was not silenced.  Today, almost 2000 years since Jesus death and seventy years since the atomic bomb exploded in Hiroshima, the mandate, “listen to him” is as compelling and urgent for us as it was for the shaken apostles.  Perhaps it is more compelling because Hiroshima demonstrated humankind's capacity for instantaneous large-scale destruction.  A capacity that is unique to the present.

LISTEN to him.
Listen to HIM.

As we listen to Jesus, if we allow Him to transform us through prayer, through reading and meditating on scripture, and, most particularly, through regular participation in the Eucharist, we move that much closer to the eschatological glory foreshadowed in the transfigured Jesus.  And that much farther from the apocalyptic destruction of Hiroshima.

Today's photos, except for one, are a little odd.  

The non-odd one is some flowers in the sun.  I liked the backlight

This is the Leaning Dome of Weston.  This effect came from taking the photo of Campion Center as reflected in a car window.  

 The next three are of the same subject.  The dragonfly was hovering on the light support near the flowers.  These were taken with a telephoto lens.  I did not have the tripod and thus had to crank up the ISO to 800 and 1600 to compensate for the shake that is magnified when the telephoto is so strong.   Goofy little creature to be sure.  It is cartoon-like.  Perhaps he can get his own show on Saturday morning. 

+Fr. Jack, SJ, MD

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