The emphasis and focus of much of modern life is on self. Many have adopted a victim mentality. Focusing on their own wounds and grieving the injustice they have suffered, or perhaps because they are seeking compensation for all they have endured, they have little energy to worship God or to serve others. This sort of thinking influences our attitudes toward self, others and God.
The liturgy of Holy Mother Church leads us in another direction altogether. We are called to a radical change in the way we view others, ourselves and our world. Despite our fallen, wounded condition we are called to interior transformation, to be Christ in our broken world. We need to be transfigured, changed from within. In all honesty, we must admit that, in ourselves, we are wholly incapable of the radical change to which we are called. We must come to see that we are God’s poor ones, totally dependent on him. Only by God’s grace are we changed. It is his work. Our work is to let go and let him transform us.
Part of our change of perspective comes from letting the light of God shine on our minds and hearts. Today we ponder the mysterious experience that was granted to Daniel. The prophet describes an overwhelming vision of the glory of God in Heaven. We see the Father, “the Ancient One,” on a flaming throne, surrounded by thousands upon thousands of angels. Then appears “one like a son of man” – a prophetic description of Jesus Christ – who is presented to the Ancient One. He receives divine “dominion, glory and kingship” which are to last forever. As we ponder this vision, we realize that there is much more to life than what we see or normally think about. God has a vast and glorious plan, and we are part of it. The center of this plan is Jesus Christ the King of the Universe. “The Lord is King, the Most High over all the earth!” There is no other king, and no other way to eternal life.
Today’s Gospel gives us a glimpse of Jesus’ divine and royal identity in the account of his Transfiguration. In full view of the Apostles Peter, John, and James, Jesus’ face changes in appearance and his clothes become dazzlingly white. Moses and Elijah appear and are in conversation with Jesus who is shining with divine splendor. From a cloud comes the voice of the Father, who says, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” Peter is so amazed and confounded by what he sees and hears that he wants this experience of glory to continue. He proposes that they capture the moment by building three tents, one each for Jesus, Moses and Elijah.
Peter’s response may remind us of our own reaction to “mountaintop experiences of God.” In moments of deep awareness of the presence of God, we too yearn to “freeze the frame” and make the experience last. But the moment does not last. After God gives us a deeper awareness of his presence, he seems to hide himself, to allow us to follow him in silence and the dim light of faith. This is where we are transformed – not in an instant of glory but in following Jesus down from Mt. Tabor to climb another hill called Calvary. Like the Apostles, we must walk by faith, not by sight (cf. 2 Cor 5:7).
But the memory of Jesus’ glory remains in our hearts. Peter, who describes himself as one of the eyewitnesses of the Lord’s majesty, tells us to remain attentive to this memory, this prophetic revelation. As we allow the presence and power of God to penetrate us by means of his word, we ourselves are changed, as “day dawns and the morning star rises in our hearts.” Our religion is not a matter of darkness and fear, as if we must slavishly follow the Commandments in order to prevent God from smiting us in his wrath. No, God has in mind a glorious plan for us to share in his divine splendor. He is bringing about this plan for our glory even today as we ponder the Transfiguration of his Son. We see in Jesus a vision of the destiny of our own humanity. Ultimately, the Father longs for us to know him and be with him forever, and to hear his word to us in the depth of our being: “You are my beloved son; my beloved daughter.”
Do I work at trying to be more dependent on God instead of on myself? Do I pray and ask God to help me let go of myself, so that he may transform my heart and mind? Can I grasp the truth that I am a beloved son, beloved daughter of God?
Excerpt from The Anawim Way, Volume 15, no. 6. More information about The Anawim Way may be found here.