Saturday, August 6, 2011

"Analysis does not transform consciousness."

Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend. - Martin Luther King Jr.

Gospel text (Mt 17,1-9): August 6th: Transfiguration of Our Lord
Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother, John,
and led them up a high mountain by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them;
his face shone like the sun
and his clothes became white as light.
And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them,
conversing with him.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Lord, it is good that we are here.
If you wish, I will make three tents here,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, behold,
a bright cloud cast a shadow over them,
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.”
And when the disciples raised their eyes,
they saw no one else but Jesus alone.
As they were coming down from the mountain,
Jesus charged them,
“Do not tell the vision to anyone
until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

If anyone had his life transformed by meeting Jesus, it was surely St. Peter, who left his fishing boat and nets to follow a prophet who offered to make him a fisher of men. Today I’m drawn to Peter’s role in the Transfiguration because I see him as our surrogate witness at the event.

Here was a guy that those of us with blue-collar backgrounds can relate to – tough, practical, and no-nonsense like the people we grew up with. Peter was no mystic but a man like my dad who never went to work in the morning without making his own lunch.

Of COURSE Peter’s first thought on seeing Jesus, Moses and Elijah together was to offer to build three tents. What else would be more USEFUL? He was probably already looking around to see what he could find to work with when God interrupted to say: “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.”

Years later as Peter was dictating his letter (since I doubt he could write), he must have been thinking of the Transfiguration when he told the early Christians that “we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable. You will do well to be attentive to it.” Peter could state that Jesus’ message was “altogether reliable” because he had BEEN at the Transfiguration, had heard the voice of God and had seen what happened with his own two skeptical eyes. This was no myth that he had picked up from some otherworldly dreamer and Peter knew that his audience knew this. In today’s lingo, he had street credit.

I find myself focusing on Peter for a more theological reason as well. While meditating on the Transfiguration, I read that Jesus’ revelation of his divinity to his lower class disciples symbolizes that He came for common people. It touches me that at one of the sublime moments in the New Testament, we were represented not by a big wig from the Temple but by a man who reminds me a lot of my father, the barber from Bellville, New Jersey.

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