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March 7, 2012

Embraced by Lent: A New Look at Life — Transfiguration, Wow!

(Click here for complete readings. Audio option. Courtesy, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.)
We’ve all seen them, perhaps in passing or for some it’s an ongoing love affair. I speak about the craze in television programs such as “The Biggest Loser,” “Extreme Makeover” (there are two versions, one dealing with humans and the other with homes). We are fascinated with such titles as “Pimp My Ride,” “Trick My Truck,” and “What Not to Wear.” Marketing strategies tell us that we’ll never be truly happy unless we wear the right clothes, drive the right cars, live in the best neighborhoods, and have the best of everything. Is this the direction we really want for ourselves and those we love?
“Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them … then a cloud came, and casting a shadow over them; from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” (Mark 9:2, 7)
Who was this extreme makeover, this transfiguration, really meant for? Jesus? The three disciples? Us? Perhaps the answer is all of the above.
As Jesus began his public ministry he certainly must have had moments of doubt, maybe not so much in what he was trying to instill in his listeners, but perhaps a sort of confusion and even disappointment that many of those who listened to him just didn’t get it. And even his closest disciples where among those who sometimes appeared not to “get it.” Perhaps the words that issued forth from the cloud were an affirmation, a shot in the arm, if you will, to let Jesus know that indeed, he was beloved by God.
The response of the disciples was to build three tents and stay there basking in the comfort and security of that place on Mount Tabor. Mark tells us that Peter “did not know what he was saying.”(Mark 9:6) Ah, perhaps on the other hand, he did. Peter knew, or at least suspected, what would await them when they went back down the mountain. I think I would have chosen the security of that mountaintop. What about you?
This story of the Transfiguration is a story that is filled with hope, not only for the disciples who would walk those final days with Jesus, but also for us, twenty centuries removed from the events of that day.
We too participate in the transfiguring moment. By our baptism, we too have been called into a relationship in which our loving God says to each one of us, “You are by beloved son, my beloved daughter.” This IS transformation at its best. That in spite of ourselves, in spite of the brokenness in each of our lives, we are called, invited into an intimate and personal relationship with God and with one another. Now talk about a reality show!

Father James McDonald professed vows as a Redemptorist in 1984 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1990. He is currently stationed at San Alfonso Retreat House in Long Branch, NJ.

More reflections:
Getting Back to Basics: What Lent IS and IS NOT
Slowing Down, Entering the Desert


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Two thousand years ago Jesus said, “He sent me to preach the Good News to the poor.” Since 1732 the Redemptorists have followed in His footsteps, preaching the Word and serving the poor and most abandoned. Our congregation of missionary priests and brothers was founded by St. Alphonsus Liguori. Like the first Apostles, our mission—and our joy—is bringing the message of salvation to all people. As Redemptorists, we have a special devotion to crib, cross, Mary, and the Eucharist. To learn more, explore our website and connect with us on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.

Comments (2) total

Tom B. | Wed 03/07/2012 10:14 AM

Now, during Lent, we can strive for a spiritual makeover,and on Easter become truly transfigured in the image of Christ. Nice reflection.Looking forward to the next.

Jeff and Brenda Vredenburg | Fri 03/09/2012 9:02 AM

Thank you very much for your words of encouragement and hope!

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