Malankara World Journal Special Edition: Transfiguration
Volume 3 No. 155 August 4, 2013
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
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Poem: Look at the Lord by Shirley Chacko
What to Do if Your Spouse is Having an Affair? Marriage Expert Outlines 4 Ways to Reconcile Your Relationship (If You're Still Interested) ...
It is August. If you live in Kerala, you are hoping that, with only 15 days left for the arrival of the month of Chingam (and the end of Karkkidakom), there will be a pause in the torrential downpours and the resultant moon-craters on the roads that made travel nearly impossible in the past few months. We will be ready for the Onam Season soon. If you live in North America, there are only a few precious weeks left of the vacation season; the schools will begin soon. In church calendar also, the lull in the season after Pentecost will be over with the advent of the Transfiguration Feast. We will have Shunoyo festival on August 15th, followed by Eight Day Lent and the birthday of St. Mary on September 8. Most people do not pay any attention to the Transfiguration Feast. It is, however, an important mystery for Christians. Filled with symbolism and mystery, it provides a bridge from the Old Testament to the New Testament. Dennis Bratcher of The Christian Resource Institute helps us to lift part of this mystery:
"The experience itself draws heavily on Old Testament images and symbols. Fire and cloud, as well as corresponding metaphors of light and wind, were common Old Testament ways of describing the presence of God. Even the term "glory" often used to refer to God indirectly was understood as a brilliance, a radiant light that marked God's presence but concealed God himself (Lev 9:23-24, Deut 5:24, Exe 43:2; cf. 1 King 8:11 for the "glory" associated with a bright cloud). These metaphors of God are often associated in Old Testament traditions with a particular way of describing manifestations of God's presence called a theophany. This is simply a poetic literary form that used various metaphors and symbols to describe a manifestation or experience of God, especially when God acts in revelatory or salvific ways (for example, Psa 18:6-15, Hab 3:1-15; cf. Exod 3:1-6, 33:17-23, Isa 6:1-6). It is just such a theophany that is presented in Exodus 34:29-35. There are enough common features between this event and Moses' experience (the location on a mountain, the shining face of Moses, the authority of Moses in presenting the commands of God to the people, the intermediary role of Moses between God and the people) to suggest that the Gospel tradition either used that description as a model for describing Jesus' experience here, or that there were common ways of describing this kind of revelatory encounter with God from which both accounts drew.The connection with Moses' theophany is highlighted even further by the fact that Moses is one of the two men seen with Jesus on the mountain. With the use of theophonic language here, the connection is made between Jesus and the role of Moses as mediator between God and the people. In this context on the mountain of the Transfiguration, Moses represented the instructions given by God to the people and the covenantal relationship made at Mount Sinai. The other figure on the mountain, Elijah, has already appeared prominently in Luke's Gospel, first as Luke identified John the Baptizer with Elijah as the one who would prepare the way for Jesus (1:17), then as Jesus presented Elijah as the example of a prophet who did great things outside Israel (4:25-26). Luke has also noted that some people thought Jesus was Elijah (9:8, 19). Because of these earlier references, Elijah emerges as representative of Old Testament prophets, those who also served as mediator between God and the people. Both these figures serve to place Jesus in continuity with those traditions, both the law and the prophets, while at the same time, since they leave and Jesus remained, serving to allow Jesus a more prominent and final role."The articles in this special edition of the MW Journal help you to appreciate the importance of this festival. There are two instances in the ministry of Jesus, when he took a subset of his disciples for a special experiential session. The first time was the transfiguration journey when he took them to Mount Tabor where they could experience personally the "transformed" Jesus. The other occasion was when he took them to the Garden of Gethsemane for a special prayer prior to his passion. (Interestingly, both times, these disciples were asleep too!) Was there an inner circle of the disciples for Jesus? What was special about these three? G. C. Morgan thinks so:
"There can be no doubt that these men, Peter, James, and John, were the most remarkable in the apostolate. Peter loved Him; John He loved; James was the first to seal his testimony with his blood. Even their blunders proved their strength. They were the men of enterprise; men who wanted thrones and places of power...Mistaken ideas, all of them, and yet proving capacity for holding the keys and occupying the throne. What men from among that first group reign today as these men?"Out of the three, only John stayed with Jesus till the end. These were ordinary people with human faults and prejudices. They were, however, transformed completely after the resurrection. When Jesus comes to our lives, we should reflect Him on our faces. Others should see the Halo of Him around us like the three disciples saw on Jesus at Mount Tabor. When He enters into our lives and guides us, our lives will be transformed too. Dr. Jacob Mathew
This Sunday in Church
Bible Readings For The Festival of Transfiguration/Koodaara Perunnal
This Week's Features
Suggested Approach to Prayer: The Enveloping Cloud
Daily Prayer Pattern:
• I quiet myself and relax in the presence of God.
• I declare my dependence on God.
• I ask to know and love Jesus more intimately so that I may follow him in faith and with courage.
• I imagine myself being invited by Jesus to accompany him with Peter, James, and John to the mountain. As I climb, I consider in detail the arduous task I am undertaking, pausing frequently to observe the changing perspective of the terrain below. As we reach the summit, I am aware of Jesus and the disciples as they quiet themselves in prayer. I relax and enter into prayer along with them.
• I contemplate Jesus in prayer as he enters deeply into communion with God. I see this union of love reflected in his face, his posture, in his total demeanor. I allow myself to absorb this glory of God in Jesus.
• I become aware of the presence of Moses and Elijah and listen carefully to their conversation with Jesus. As the event unfolds, I am drawn into Peter's excitement and desire to remain here.
• I become aware of the cloud of God's presence enveloping us all. I listen and am aware of my own feeling response as I hear addressed to me the words, "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!"
• Alone with Jesus, I let my heart express my gratitude.
• I pray the Our Father.
Review of Prayer:
• I record in my journal the thoughts and feelings that have surfaced during my prayer.
Source: Excerpted from: 'Surrender: A Guide for Prayer' - wau.org
Homily by Pope Francis
Gospel: St. Luke 9:28-36
"It is good for us to be here!", Peter cries out after seeing the Lord Jesus transfigured in glory. Do we want to repeat these words with him? I think the answer is yes, because here today, it is good for all of us to be gathered together around Jesus! It is he who welcomes us and who is present in our midst here in Rio. In the Gospel we have heard God the Father say: "This is my Son, my chosen one; listen to him!" (Lk 9:35). If it is Jesus who welcomes us, we too ought to welcome him and listen to his words; it is precisely through the welcome we give to Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, that the Holy Spirit transforms us, lights up our way to the future, and enables us joyfully to advance along that way with wings of hope (cf. Lumen Fidei, 7).
But what can we do? "Bota fé - put on faith". The World Youth Day Cross has proclaimed these words throughout its pilgrimage in Brazil. "Put on faith": what does this mean? When we prepare a plate of food and we see that it needs salt, well, we "put on" salt; when it needs oil, then you "put on" oil. "To put on", that is, to place on top of, to pour over. And so it is in our life, dear young friends: if we want it to have real meaning and fulfillment, as you want and as you deserve, I say to each one of you, "Put on faith", and your life will take on a new flavour, it will have a compass to show you the way; "put on hope" and every one of your days will be enlightened and your horizon will no longer be dark, but luminous; "put on love", and your life will be like a house built on rock, your journey will be joyful, because you will find many friends to journey with you. Put on faith, put on hope, put on love!
But who can give us all this? In the Gospel we have just heard the answer: Christ. "This is my Son, my chosen one. Listen to him!" Jesus is the one who brings God to us and us to God. With him, our life is transformed and renewed, and we can see reality with new eyes, from Jesus' standpoint, with his own eyes (cf. Lumen Fidei, 18). For this reason, I want to insist with you today: "Put on Christ!" in your life, and you will find a friend in whom you can always trust; "put on Christ" and you will see the wings of hope spreading and letting you journey with joy towards the future; "put on Christ" and your life will be full of his love; it will be a fruitful life.
Today, I would like each of us to ask sincerely: in whom do we place our trust? In ourselves, in material things, or in Jesus? We are all tempted to put ourselves at the centre, to think that we alone build our lives or that our life can only be happy if built on possessions, money, or power. But it is not so. Certainly, possessions, money and power can give a momentary thrill, the illusion of being happy, but they end up possessing us and making us always want to have more, never satisfied. "Put on Christ" in your life, place your trust in him and you will never be disappointed! You see how faith accomplishes a revolution in us, one which we can call Copernican, because it removes us from the centre and restores it to God; faith immerses us in his love and gives us security, strength, and hope. To all appearances, nothing has changed; yet, in the depths of our being, everything is different. Peace, consolation, gentleness, courage, serenity and joy, which are all fruits of the Holy Spirit (cf. Gal 5:22), find a home in our heart, and our very being is transformed; our way of thinking and acting is made new, it becomes Jesus' own, God's own, way of thinking and acting. During the Year of Faith, this World Youth Day is truly a gift offered to us to draw us closer to the Lord, to be his disciples and his missionaries, to let him renew our lives.
Dear young people: "Put on Christ" in your lives. In these days, Christ awaits you in his word; listen carefully to him and your heart will be warmed by his presence; "Put on Christ": he awaits you in the sacrament of Penance, to heal by his mercy the wounds caused by sin. Do not be afraid to ask God's forgiveness! He never tires of forgiving us, like a father who loves us. God is pure mercy! "Put on Christ": he is waiting for you in his flesh in the Eucharist, the sacrament of his presence and his sacrifice of love, and in the humanity of the many young people who will enrich you with their friendship, encourage you by their witness to the faith, and teach you the language of charity, goodness and service.
You too, dear young people, can be joyful witnesses of his love, courageous witnesses of his Gospel, carrying to this world a ray of his light.
"It is good for us to be here", putting on Christ in our lives, putting on the faith, hope and love which he gives us. Dear friends, in this celebration we have welcomed the image of Our Lady of Aparecida. With Mary, may we be disciples and missionaries. Like her, may we say "Yes" to God. Let us ask that her maternal heart intercede for us, so that our hearts may be open to loving Jesus and making others love him. He is waiting for us, and he is counting on us. Amen.
[Editor's Note: This was the text of the Homily delivered by Pope Francis at Copacabana prayer service, Rio de Janeiro on July 25th, 2013. The prayer service was part of World Youth Day. ]
by: Jacqueline Syrup Bergman and Marie Schwan, CSJ
In each of our lives there are heightened moments of joy and awareness that forever elude adequate expression. Attempts to share these experiences fall short. Our words seem flat and empty, unable to hold the transcendent fullness of the event. We search in vain for images, for symbols that can effectively convey our enthusiasm and insight.
Peter was overcome with awe in the presence of the glory of God shining forth in Jesus, his friend and leader. In his great joy, he impulsively cried out, "Let us make three dwellings!"
Instinctively Peter drew upon one of the greatest expressions of joy his people experienced, the annual communal celebration of the Feast of Tents, the Feast of Tabernacles. Each year, the Jewish people looked forward to this weeklong festival. After the autumn harvest they came in one great pilgrimage to the sanctuary to offer praise and thanksgiving for God's abundant goodness to them and to ask the Lord to send rains for the coming year. To accommodate the many people, small tents or booths-"dwellings"-were constructed wherever there was space-on hillsides and housetops, and in the corners of courtyards. The booths were made of palm branches and decorated with fruit.
The Jewish people knew how to celebrate! Magnificent processions began early in the morning, with each participant carrying a palm branch and singing songs of praise. Throughout the night, men danced in the sanctuary courtyard, dressed in white garments and carrying lighted torches. The memories of the splendor of this great feast sustained and nurtured the Jewish people throughout the entire year.
In using the symbolism associated with the Feast of Tents, Luke conveys something of the mystery of God's presence made visible in the transfigured Jesus. Peter's notion to build three booths-one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah-gave voice to the deeper reality of his desire to prolong, to celebrate, and to mark the great moment of Jesus' transfiguration. What did Peter and his companions hear on the mountain that day? What did they see?
They saw Moses and Elijah converse with Jesus about the necessity of Jesus' own exodus, that is, his imminent suffering, death, and glorification. They saw the prophets of the Jewish Scriptures depart and give way to the new hope held in following Jesus. The disciples were privileged to receive a sustaining glimpse of the glory of Jesus' resurrection.
Peter, James, and John heard again the words spoken at Jesus' baptism, "This is my Son, my Chosen." The voice definitively confirmed the identity of Jesus as God's Son and as God's divinely elected suffering servant (Isaiah 42:1). Then, enveloped by the awesome cloud of God's presence, the disciples received the instruction, "Listen to him!"
Later, in the absence of Jesus' physical presence, the disciples, committed by faith, would discover meaning for their lives and direction for their mission through a dedicated adherence to, and dependence on, the gospel word.
"When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone" (Luke 9:36).
The mountain of transfiguration leads to the mount of Calvary. On the mount of transfiguration Jesus "set his face" to take the road to Jerusalem, city of his destiny (Luke 9:51). Confirmed in faith, the disciples would follow.
Like Peter, James, and John, we too join our voices with those of ancient Israel, who on the Feast of Tabernacles sang their praise and gratitude to God.
Source: Excerpted from: 'Surrender: A Guide for Prayer' - wau.org
by Msgr Charles Pope, Archdiocese of Washington
The Feast of the Transfiguration is ultimately about vision. The Lord brought Peter, James and John up a high mountain in order that they might come to see. Even the word that describes this day bespeaks vision. It is from the Latin Transfiguratione. Trans means "across" and by extension "change" and figura, means "shape" or "form." The suffix "ation" takes a verbal action and makes it a noun. Putting it all together transfiguration means a process by which Christ changed form or appearance. Christ gave them a glimpse of his true glory, he allowed them to see across (trans) to the other shore, to the true glory of Christ.
So the Feast of the Transfiguration is about vision. Have you seen the glory of Christ? Have you glimpsed God's glory? Have you looked across to the other shore? It is so essential for us to have this experience! Otherwise the discouragements and disappointments of life can easily overwhelm us. Only when we glimpse the glory and experience the joy of God can we truly say, by experience that our sufferings are more than worth it; That the sufferings of this world cannot even been compared to the glory that waits (Rom 8:18); that our momentary afflictions are producing for us a weight of eternal glory beyond compare (2 Cor 4:17). Have you glimpsed the glory of God and Is this something you even expect to experience in your life? We ought to asked for this wondrous gift for it is essential for us.
1. The CLIMB
Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up a mountain to pray. The other Gospels describe this as a "high" mountain. Tradition assigns Mt Tabor as the place of the Transfiguration. This is no small hill! It is indeed quite a climb to the top. I have visited there twice and, after the long drive to the top in buses with special transmissions designed for the climb, the view of the Jezreel Valley is like being up in an airplane. It probably took the four of them the better part of a day, maybe two to get to the top on foot. They must have been hardy men for such a climb. Consider too that they had to carry water and other provisions up with them. Now the point is, the vision they will experience comes only after a hard and difficult climb. It is true fact in my life and your too, I am sure, that suffering and difficulty usually gives new vision, opens new vistas, brings deeper understanding. Suffering is not something we enjoy to be sure, but it is part of the climb. There is an old Gospel song that says, "I'm coming up on the rough side of the mountain!" The paradox announced by the song is that it is easier to climb on the rough side of the mountain. That's where the climbing is to be had. That's where the progress is possible. The smooth side provides little footing and is more dangerous. We like a smooth and pleasant life, but in fact, it is a more dangerous climb. Now at the top there is a vision to be had! But to get us there the Lord often has to have us climb and bring us up the rough side of the mountain. This is what it often takes to give us vision.
2. The CLARIFICATION
While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem. Now I have chosen the word clarification to do double duty here. One the one had it refers to brilliant glory shining forth from Christ. Clarus in Latin means "bright" and hence clarification refers to his shining splendor. But I also use the word clarification in the more common English sense which means to make clear. Now notice that Moses and Elijah are present and conversing with the Lord. Moses and Elijah are historical persons to be sure but they also represent the Law and the Prophets. In other words they represent Scripture. Part of what the Lord needs to do for us to give us heavenly vision is to teach us his Word. As we grow in knowledge of Scripture, our vision grows, our understanding deepens, and we see things differently. Immersion in the Scriptures disposes us for heavenly vision. Notice too how Moses and Elijah (personifying Scripture) give the vision for what Christ is about to do in his final journey to Jerusalem. The vision is of a new Exodus. Just as Moses led the ancient people out of slavery in Egypt by the Blood of the Lamb at Passover and the parted waters (baptism) of the Red Sea. So now Jesus would lead his people out (exodus) from slavery to sin by the blood of the Lamb (Jesus is the Lamb of God) and the Baptismal waters flowing from his parted and pierced side. Do you see what Scripture does? It gives us vision. It sheds light on the meaning of our life. Scripture is our story and it shows again and again how God can make a way out of no way, that He can do any thing but fail. Do you want to see the heavens open and the glory of God be revealed? Then immerse yourself in scripture. Through Scripture God clarifies all things.
3. The CONTEMPLATION
Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep, but becoming fully awake,
they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As they were about to part
from him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good that we are here; let us make
4. The COMMAND
While [Peter] was still speaking, a cloud came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, "This is my chosen Son; listen to him." – And now comes the great glory cloud (the shekinah) that overshadows them. This vision has been wonderful but God has more than bright lights to show them. The vision he confers gives direction as well as light. His direction is clear: "Listen to my Son." Not only does this instruction complete the vision but it also ensures greater vision in the future. If we obey Jesus Christ, we will see greater and greater things (Jn 1:50). If we follow him he will lead us to the light and we will see all things by it. But note this, where Jesus leads is not always easy. In order to obey the Father's command that they listen to Jesus, they are going to have to accept Christ's instruction that they follow him to Jerusalem and the cross. Only in this way will they see all things by the light of Easter glory.
Do you want to see? Then be willing to make the climb with Jesus. He gives vision if we climb. He gives vision if we are immersed in his Word, which is Scripture and Church Teaching. But his greatest vision lies ahead if we but take up our cross and follow him through his passion death and resurrection. Happy feast of the Transfiguration. May God grant us vision.
by The Rt. Rev. Charles F. Duvall
Scripture: Luke 9:28-36
Often in human life we find ourselves struggling to see something or someone in the dim murkiness of our lives and then a light shines, and we say, "Oh, now I can see clearly!" That kind of ah-hah moment happened to Simon Peter, James, and John on the mountain with Jesus. They thought they knew who Jesus was, but after this experience they saw him in a new light.
This was such an unusual experience it lends itself to imaginative retelling. Jesus takes them on the mountain to pray quietly. And while there, Jesus begins to glow, almost as if he were radioactive. He is shining brighter than the brightest whites in a modern laundry. The disciples cover their eyes, the light is so bright. But peeking between their fingers, they see that Jesus is flanked by Moses and Elijah. Moses -- whose face had shown with God's glory when he received the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. Elijah -- whose journey into heaven was so lit by God's glory that the chariot seemed to be on fire. Jesus -- shining with God's glory-- in Hebrew the word is Shekinah. Moses and Elijah reflecting that glory in the same way that the law and the prophets reflect God's Shekinah. What an experience! It transfigured Jesus and how they saw him.
The experience of the three disciples seeing Jesus transfigured changed their way of looking at Jesus, and it also changed the way they saw God. It even transfigured their view of human kind. Oh, that we, too, might see clearly in the light of God's Shekinah glory. Their view of Jesus was changed.
Before this they had seen him as a wonderfully insightful rabbi with remarkable healing powers. Now they experience him shining with the Shekinah glory of God. He's not reflecting God's glory. God's glory is radiating from Jesus. Dare they say what to a believing Jew was blasphemy? I dare say it for them. Jesus is God. He is that unique individual in all of history who is fully human (they had seen him tired, hungry, irritated) and yet fully divine (the heavenly voice calls Jesus: my Son, my Chosen). Now they realize that to know Jesus is to know God. What is God like? Look at Jesus. What is God's attitude about us humans? Get to know Jesus and his attitudes.
The experience of the faithful over the centuries since this experience on the mountain is that the transfigured Jesus is not a momentary aberration but the truth about Jesus. Jesus is God, and God's Shekinah glory does radiate from him.
Their view of God changed also. This new insight about Jesus being God changed their view of God. Since Jesus, the involved rabbi, is God, it is clear that God is very involved in human life. No longer could they view God simply as the awesome other. God is present in their lives because Jesus is present in their lives. Simon Peter, James and John had never heard the word "incarnation," but they were experiencing God in flesh as they were experiencing Jesus. They now saw, in a new light, what God had been trying to show to his chosen people from the beginning: God wants to be known by us humans. He even takes the ultimate step of becoming one of us so that we might see God in images that we understand.
This insight still holds true today. God is available to human knowing. Christians today recognize God's involvement in our lives through our study of God's self revelation in Holy Scripture and our experience of the Risen Christ, God's Son. I am blessed to know a female priest who, after recounting some awesome thing that has happened to her, says simply: "It's a God thing."
Their view of people also changed. If God is involved in human lives, then humans must be of value or God wouldn't bother with them. The Gospel narrative we heard today hasn't yet reached the account of Jesus' death on behalf of us humans, but we who are aware of Christ's sacrifice realize human life has a worth that invites us to respect the dignity of every human being.
Not only is every human life worth caring about, but those humans, Moses and Elijah, seen with Jesus, model for the rest of us humans the possibility for reflecting God's glory. Jesus radiated God's Shekinah glory. Moses and Elijah reflected that glory. We know enough about Moses and Elijah's human foibles to see that if they can reflect God's glory as they stand by Jesus then we, too, can reflect God's glory as we stand up for Jesus. As Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth: "We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of God, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another."
Francis Dorff has a wonderful story called "The Rabbi's Gift," which illustrates how our treatment of others can be changed as we look for Jesus, the Messiah. The story goes like this:
There was a famous monastery which once had been full of monks and visitors seeking spiritual guidance. But the monastery had fallen on dry years when their spirituality level was very low. Few pilgrims came to seek guidance, and few young people gave themselves to become monks. At last, there was only a handful of elderly monks going about their work, their prayer, their study with heavy hearts. The only time their spirit seemed to lift was when the word went out that the rabbi was walking in the woods. You see, in the woods near the monastery, there was a small hut that this rabbi had constructed as a place of retreat, and he came from time to time to fast and pray. And when the monks in the monastery knew he was fasting and praying, they felt supported by his prayer.
One day, the abbot of the monastery, hearing that the rabbi was walking in the woods, decided to go see him. And when he reached the little hut, there was the rabbi standing in the doorway with his arms outstretched, as if he had been standing there for sometime to welcome the abbot, who had given no notice of his visit. They greeted one another, and then went in the simple hut where there was a table with a book of scripture opened on the table. They sat there, silently prayed, and then the abbot began to weep. He poured out his concern for the monastery and for the spiritual health of the monks. Finally, the rabbi said, 'You seek a teaching from me and I have one for you. It is a teaching which I will say to you and then I will never repeat. When you share this teaching with the monks, you are to say it once and then never to repeat it. The teaching is this. Listen carefully. "The Messiah is among you."
Well, when the abbot heard that teaching, he thanked the rabbi. He went back to the monastery to gather the monks and to tell them the teaching of the rabbi. He told him, as he was instructed, that he would say the teaching once, and then they were to talk about it no more. "Listen carefully," he said. "The teaching is this: One of us is the Messiah." It wasn't exactly what the rabbi had said, but they began to look at one another in a whole new light. Is Brother John the messiah? Or Father James? Am I the messiah?
In the days to come, as they went about their prayer life and their work and their study of scripture, they began to treat one another in a whole new light. Each one of them might be the messiah, and this new treatment of one another, this new sense of expectation, was noted by the few pilgrims who came. And soon the word spread. What a spirit of concern and compassion and expectation can be felt at the monastery!
Young people began to offer themselves in service. Pilgrims began to come in great number, all because they looked at each other as people of worth.
The experience on the Mount of Transfiguration was unique and will never be repeated. However, the insights gained that day and though our present consideration reverberates through history. Simon Peter, James and John saw things in a whole new light. Jesus is God. God is involved in human life. Human life is precious in God's sight. What a momentous vision! Oh, that God's glory, radiating in the Risen Jesus, may be so reflected in me and you that people everywhere may see clearly in that light that Jesus is Lord; that God cares about every human being; and that we humans are invited to share God's glory! In the words of the praise song: "Shine Jesus, Shine!"
Let us pray.
Lord Jesus Christ, we join the disciples and all at your shining revelation of yourself as divine on the mountain top. Shine in our lives we pray that we may see clearly your true nature and the true worth of each human being. We long to reflect your glory in our words and actions, so that those around us may see you and each other in a new light. All this we pray in your holy name. Amen.
copyright © The Rt. Rev. Charles F. Duvall
About The Author:
The Rt. Rev. Charles Duvall is the retired bishop of the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast of the Episcopal Church, and now lives in Columbia, South Carolina.
by Fr John Zuhlsdorf
The Mystery of the Transfiguration was a matter of intense reflection on the part of the Fathers.
Remember that this takes place some eight days after the Lord confers the keys on Peter by the Jordan at Caesarea Philippi. The Fathers thought everything in Scripture was significant and they attached great meaning to numbers.
Let us see what the mighty Ambrose of Milan (+397) has to say about the timing of the Transfiguration in relation to the events at Caesarea Philippi:
You may know that Peter, James and John did not taste death and were worthy to see the glory of the resurrection. It says, "about eight days after these words, He took those three alone and led them onto the mountain." Why is it that he says, "eight days after these words"? He that hears the words of Christ and believes will see the glory of Christ at the time of the resurrection. The resurrection happened on the eight day, and most of the psalms were written "For the eighth". (cf. e.g., Ps 6:1; 12:1 LXX and Vulgate) It shows us that He said that he who because of the Word of God shall lose his own soul will save it, (Luke 9:24) since he renews his promises at the resurrection. (Matthew 16:25-27) But Matthew and Mark say that they were taken after six days. (Cf. Matthew 17:1; Mark 9:2) We may say that they were taken after six thousand years, because a thousand years in God’s sight are as one day. (Ps 89:4 LXX) We counted more than six thousand years. We prefer to understand six days as a symbol, because God created the works of the world in six days (Gen 2:1), so that we understand works through the time and the world through the works. [Exposition of the Gospel of Luke 7.6-7]
St. Augustine (+430) also gets into this issue of six days, as recounted in Matthew and Mark, and eight days (as in Luke) in a discussion of the resurrection three days after the Passion and death of the Lord. He is trying to make sense of the numbers. In other places I have explained how the ancients numbered their periods of days, that is, inclusively.
St. Cyril of Alexandria (+444) wrote of the Transfiguration in terms of the connection between suffering and glory, between the Law and the Prophets, between the foreshadowings of the past and their fulfillment.
"I say to you, there are some of those standing here who shall not taste of death until they have seen the kingdom of God." … By the "kingdom of God" He means the sight of the glory in which He will appear at His revelation to the inhabitants of earth. He will come in the glory of God the Father and not in a humble condition like ours. How did He make those who received the promise spectators of a thing so wonderful? He goes up into the mountain taking three chosen disciples with Him. He is transformed to such a surpassing and godlike brightness that His garments even glittered with rays of fire and seemed to flash like lightning.
Besides, Moses and Elijah stood at Jesus’ side and spoke with one another about His departure that He was about, it says, to accomplish at Jerusalem. This meant the mystery of the dispensation in the flesh and of His precious suffering upon the Cross. It is also true that the law of Moses and the word of the holy prophets foreshadowed the mystery of Christ. The law of Moses foreshadowed it by types and shadows, painting it as in a picture. The holy prophets in different ways declared before hand that in due time He would appear in our likeness and for the salvation and life of us all, agree to suffer death on the tree.
Moses and Elijah standing before Him and talking with one another was a sort of representation. It excellently displayed our Lord Jesus Christ as having the law and the prophets for His bodyguard. It displayed Christ as being the Lord of the Law and the Prophets, as foretold in them by those things that they proclaimed in mutual agreement beforehand. The words of the prophets are not different from the teachings of the law. I imagine this was what the most priestly Moses and the most distinguished of the prophets Elijah were talking about with one another. [Commentary on Luke, Homily 51]
The last line here is interesting. It makes me call to mind what one finds in studying ancient historiography, such as Herodotus and Thucydides. When reporting the speeches great figures made, about which they might at the very best have some distant report from someone who heard about the content of the speech, such as Pericles’s great oration, from a generation or more removed, Thucydides would record what the great man ought to have said in that momentous occasion. This sounds much like what Cyril is doing.
Have you ever wondered why some get some graces and others do not? St. Maximus Confessor (+682) gives an interesting insight while he comments on the Transfiguration:
The Lord does not always appear in glory to all who stand before Him. To beginners He appears in the form of a servant (Phil 2:7); to those able to follow Him as He climbs the high mountain of His Transfiguration He appears in the form of God, the form in which He existed before the world came to be (John 17:5). It is therefore possible for the same Lord not to appear in the same way to all who stand before Him, but to appear to some in one way and to others in another way, according to the measure of each person’s faith. When the Logos of God becomes manifest and radiant in us, and His face shines like the sun, then His clothes will also look white. That is to say, the words of the Gospel will then be clear and distinct, with nothing concealed. And Moses and Elijah – the more spiritual principles of the Law and the Prophets – will also be present with Him.
St. John Chrysostom (+407) takes on this same issue:
Note, I pray you, the severe goodness of Matthew, not concealing those who were preferred to himself. Also, John often does this (in his Gospel), recording the peculiar praises of Peter with great sincerity. For the choir of these holy men (disciples) was everywhere pure from envy and vainglory. Having taken, therefore, the leaders,
Why does Jesus take with Him these three only? Because these were superior to the rest. And, Peter indeed showed his superiority by exceedingly loving Him; John; by being exceedingly loved by Him; and James again by his answer which he gave with his brother, saying "We are able (to drink this cup);" (Matt. 20:22) but not by this answer only, but also by his works …For so earnest was he (James), and so grievous to the Jews, that Herod himself supposed that he found favor with the Jews by slaying him (James)." [St. John Chrysostom, Homily 56]
I suppose we ought to be careful what we ask for. Our earthly fate notwithstanding, we are always able to have a moment of Transfiguration in the proper reception of Holy Communion, which is far more than a mere vision of something of Christ’s divine shining through our humanity. The Eucharist is not only the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ, it is for us a "pledge of future glory, containing in Itself all delight", as St. Thomas Aquinas (+1274) wrote for the feast of Corpus Christi, and which we all sing whenever there is Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. A good reception of Communion is an even greater encounter with the Lord, than a Transfiguration. It opens up the way to a bright future for us. On that note, Gregory of Nazianzus (+389) ties us all into the mystery of the Transfiguration, saying:
He was bright as the lightning on the mountain and became more luminous than the sun, initiating us into the mystery of the future. [Oration 3.19, On the Son]
By Jimmy Akin
Wings and halos. Robes and harps. Sitting on clouds. Being greeted by St. Peter at the pearly gates: These are the images of heaven we get from movies, TV, and newspaper cartoons. Silly as they are, the ideas behind these images can seep into our consciousness and affect the way we think of heaven.
For example, it's commonly believed that we will have no bodies in heaven. That's only partly true. People in heaven do not have bodies (with rare exceptions such as Jesus and Mary), but that's a temporary state of affairs. At the end of time, we will be raised from the dead and reunited with our bodies (cf. 1 Cor. 15:16–18).
The idea that we will spend eternity as disembodied ghosts is one of the most widespread myths about the afterlife. God created men to be embodied spirits, and while death may temporarily interrupt that, death is not the final word. Our ultimate destiny is to be the embodied spirits that God always intended us to be.
Of course, ordinary bodies are not able to survive for all eternity. Paul explains that "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable" (1 Cor. 15:50).
Our bodies will be modified somehow when we are reunited with them after the resurrection. What these modifications will be even Paul did not claim to understand, though he compared the difference between our bodies now and our bodies then to the difference between a seed and the plant that is grown from the seed (1 Cor. 15:35–44).
Elsewhere he states that Jesus "will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body" (Phil. 3:21), raising the possibility that in our resurrected bodies we will be able to do many of the things that Christ was able to do in his resurrected form, such as appear or disappear from places at will, without locked doors or other barriers obstructing us.
The other images our culture gives us of heaven are also problematic. The idea that we will have wings has absolutely no basis in Scripture or Tradition.
Neither does the idea that we will become angels. Angels are created beings that are pure spirit and have no bodies (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church 328–330). They are a different order of being than we are, and humans and angels don't turn into each other.
Halos are simply an artistic way of representing holiness, and while we will be holy in heaven, we have no reason to think that this will manifest itself in halos as we see in illustrations.
Robes are something people wore in biblical days, so it is common to picture people in heaven wearing robes, but we have no idea what clothes (if any) we may wear.
The image of harps in heaven is drawn from Scripture (Rev. 5:8), though not everyone in heaven is depicted as playing a harp.
Scripture does not picture those in heaven sitting around on clouds, but it does picture heaven as being "up" from an earth-bound perspective, so clouds are a natural image for artists to supply.
The image of St. Peter in charge of "the pearly gates" is not taken directly from Scripture but is based on two things that Scripture does say. The first is that Peter was given the "keys of the kingdom" and the power to "bind" and "loose" by Christ (Matt. 16:18–19). Indeed, one cannot knowingly and deliberately cut off communion with Peter and his successors without committing schism and denying oneself heaven, so Peter has been portrayed as admitting or barring people from heaven. In reality, Peter does not (so far as we know) personally approve each person's admission to heaven.
The image of the pearly gates is taken from Scripture as well. We typically see this pictured as a set of golden gates framed by two large white (pearly?) structures, but the image in Scripture is somewhat different. There, the heavenly city is described as having twelve gates, "and the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl" (Rev. 21:21).
Paved in Gold
Scripture employs far more images of heaven in addition to the handful our culture has latched onto. One of the most common New Testament depictions of heaven is a feast (Matt. 8:11; Luke 13:29; 14:15–24), in particular a wedding feast (Matt. 22:1–14; 25:1–13; Rev. 19:7–9) understood as a first-century Jewish wedding feast, not a modern wedding reception.
Another notable image is heaven as a temple. Heaven was understood as the dwelling place of God. Earthly temples were in some sense modeled on heaven. Much of the book of Revelation takes place in heaven, so it's not surprising that it describes God's temple in heaven (Rev. 11:19) and heavenly worshipers with censers (8:3), incense (8:4), trumpets (8:7), bowls (16:2), harps (5:8), and other trappings of the kind of worship given to God in the Jerusalem temple.
Heaven also is depicted as a city of the righteous named New Jerusalem. It is mentioned in various New Testament passages (e.g., Gal. 4:25–26; Heb. 11:22), but it receives its fullest description in Revelation 21, where the image of the streets being paved with gold comes from (21:21), though what the text says is that "the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass."
These images are meant to convey a sense of wonder at what God has in store, but we must be careful of how literally we take them. Paul warns us that "no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him" (1 Cor. 2:9; cf. CCC 1027). In a weekly catechesis, Pope John Paul II wrote:
In the context of Revelation, we know that the "heaven" or "happiness" in which we will find ourselves is neither an abstraction nor a physical place in the clouds but a living, personal relationship with the Holy Trinity. It is our meeting with the Father that takes place in the risen Christ through the communion of the Holy Spirit. It is always necessary to maintain a certain restraint in describing these "ultimate realities" since their depiction is always unsatisfactory (July 21, 1999).
The images Scripture gives us of heaven point to the realities that God has in store for his people. When we experience the realities that these symbols point to, we will find them more amazing, not less, than what human language could express.
The fundamental essence of heaven is union with God. The Catechism explains that "perfect life with the Most Holy Trinity . . . is called ‘heaven.' Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness" (CCC 1024). It also states that "heaven is the blessed community of all who are perfectly incorporated into Christ" (CCC 1026).
Traditionally theology has explained the chief blessing or "beatitude" of heaven as "the beatific vision" - an insight into the wonder of God's inner, invisible essence. "Because of his transcendence, God cannot be seen as he is, unless he himself opens up his mystery to man's immediate contemplation and gives him the capacity for it. The Church calls this contemplation of God in his heavenly glory ‘the beatific vision'" (CCC 1028).
Because humans are made for having a conscious relationship with God, the beatific vision corresponds to the greatest human happiness possible.
Many people wonder how our relationships with others will work in heaven. Some have even wondered whether we will retain our own identities. The answer is that we will. The Christian faith assures us that those in heaven "retain, or rather find, their true identity" (CCC 1025). We do not become anonymous, interchangeable entities in heaven. Rather, we each receive our own reward (cf. 1 Cor. 3:11–15).
This does not mean that there will be no changes in our relationships. Jesus was clear in teaching that we will not be married in the next life (Matt. 22:30). But because we retain our identities, we will continue to know and love those we were close to in earthly life. Indeed, in heaven our love for them and our spiritual intimacy with them will be truer, purer, and stronger than it was in this life.
Pain in Heaven?
A special problem that has been raised by some is the question of pain in heaven. Some have wondered how it would be possible for individuals to enjoy the beatitude of heaven if they knew that some people - perhaps some they were close to in earthly life - are in hell. Others have wondered about apparitions of Mary and other saints in which they are crying over what is happening or may happen on earth. These problems have made people question whether there is pain in heaven.
The answer is that there is not. Scripture assures us that for those in heaven God in the end "will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away" (Rev. 21:4).
How we will be able to know of the existence of the damned without being pained by it is a mystery, but we can only conclude that the glorified human mind will be configured in such a way that it is able - without pain - to recognize both God's justice and the free choices of men that led to damnation. God's own beatitude is not damaged by the existence of hell, and he will not allow our ultimate beatitude to be damaged, either.
As far as weeping apparitions, the tears in these cases perhaps are best understood as an expression of the gravity of man's sins and of what one in a non-glorified state would be justified in feeling rather than what literally is being felt in heaven.
Is It a Place?
Disembodied spirits are not extended in space. They don't have shape or take up space. As a result, some have wondered whether heaven is a "place." This is a difficult question. Heaven is not a location in the physical universe. One could never travel far enough in any direction in space to arrive in heaven.
But it does seem that heaven has something corresponding to space. It may not be anything remotely like space as we experience it, but heaven does seem to have the ability to receive bodies into it. Christ took his body with him to heaven when he ascended. Mary took her body when she was assumed. A few others - such as Enoch, Elijah, and perhaps Moses - also seem to have their bodies with them in heaven.
We cannot say what the present state of these bodies is. They may not be extended in space at the moment - or they may. We don't know.
What Time Is It?
Related to the problem of space in heaven is the problem of time. We often hear of heaven being described as "eternal" or "timeless." God himself, in his divine essence, is completely outside of time. For him, all of history exists in an "eternal now" without past or future. But it is not clear that created beings in union with God are completely drawn outside of time.
Medieval thinkers proposed that departed souls, such as those being purified in purgatory, exist in a state that shares some properties in common with time and some with eternity. They called this state "aeviternity." Whether this speculation is correct, or what properties such a middle state might have, are open to question. We ultimately don't know how time - or whatever might replace time - works in the afterlife.
It does seem, though, that just as heaven can receive bodies into it, it also has some kind of sequentiality. Thus there can be a point before a soul is in heaven, a point during which it is disembodied in heaven, a point after this when it is reunited with its body at the resurrection, and a point at which it exists in the eternal order in body and soul.
Will It Be Boring?
A question many have is: "Won't we get bored in heaven?" Some descriptions make it sound as if heaven will be like being in church all the time, and we get bored in church down here. While worship is central to heaven, the worship that takes place there is far deeper and richer than anything we experience on earth, for there we have the beatific vision that corresponds to the greatest human happiness. The fact that time may not work the same way there may also play a role in us not getting bored. We can be certain, though, that we will not be bored, for boredom is a form of suffering, and we have seen already that heaven excludes suffering.
It is also not clear that we will do nothing besides exclusively praising God every moment. Scripture and the Catechism both speak of us "reigning" with Christ (Rev. 22:5; CCC 1029). This suggests that we will have authority over and responsibility for things.
Where we may undertake those tasks may come as a surprise for some. Many have the idea that after the resurrection we will return to a celestial realm, leaving the physical world deserted.
But Scripture speaks of a new heaven and a new earth and seems to locate the dwelling place of man on the new earth. In Revelation, John sees "the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God" (21:2, emphasis added) and then hears: "Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them" (21:3).
This suggests that heaven and earth may not be separated in the way they presently are. The Catechism thus states that "the visible universe, then, is itself destined to be transformed, so that the world itself, restored to its original state, facing no further obstacles, should be at the service of the just" (CCC 1047).
by Shirley Chacko
The men that fear the Lord,
I His remembrance-book
This fears the spirit of faith,
by Dr. Shila Mathew, MD., Food and Living Editor, Malankara World
Prep time: 10 min.
8 kiwi fruits
1. Peel the kiwifruit and cut into quarters. Cut out the white cores and
For a cold smoothie, chill the fruit for at least 1 hour.
Recipe courtesy of Chef Michelle, ALDI Test Kitchen
What to Do if Your Spouse is Having an Affair
Marriage Expert Outlines 4 Ways to Reconcile Your Relationship (If You're Still Interested)
For many, the response to a cheating spouse is a no-brainer - kick 'em to the curb. But others want to reconcile despite being betrayed. They're willing to forgive and believe they can mend the marriage, says global marriage expert Mort Fertel.
"Some people just can't accept the idea of forgiving a cheating spouse, but you never know how you'll react to that situation until it happens to you," says Fertel, creator of the Marriage Fitness Tele-Boot Camp and author of "Marriage Fitness," (MarriageMax.com).
"It's easy to say that cheating is unacceptable. And of course, it is. But when you're faced with the consequences of ending a marriage - like weekends without the kids, less money, a smaller house, a lower standard of living, the prospect of dating again, and tearing up years of photos - many people can't go there. As unacceptable as cheating is, for many people it's worth it to try to reconcile rather than divorce and face that nightmare too. In other words, you shouldn't assume that someone who sticks with a cheating partner is a mentally deranged masochist."
If you're fed up, lawyer up - but if you want to save your marriage and reconcile your relationship, here's some advice:
• Don't spy.
If your spouse is having an affair, then your marriage needs a leader, not a follower. Spying is another form of betrayal; it's a violation of trust. Don't go there. You'll just add to the distrust in the marriage and make matters worse. Instead, take the high road. Maintain your decency and integrity. Be a leader, not a follower.
• Hang in there.
The vast majority of affairs end within a year. Your spouse may think that he or she will be the exception, but affairs are relationships built on deceit and immorality, and things planted in polluted soil don't grow well. The affair will die. Don't make an impulsive decision. Hang in there until the affair runs its natural course. At that you and your spouse might see your marriage and your future differently.
• Kill 'em with kindness.
He doesn't deserve it? No kidding! But if you want to spoil his (or her) affair and turn your marriage around, don't treat your spouse the way he treats you; treat your spouse the way you want him to treat you. Adulterers wants their spouse to leave them alone, give them space, that way they can feel emotionally free to philander. But when you extend kindness, it tugs on their conscience and ruins their justification for betraying you.
• Seduce 'em.
No one should ever do anything sexually they don't want to do, but if you desire your spouse then go for it. You're not doing anything wrong. The other man/woman is the mistress/mister; you're the wife/husband! And to turn this around it's helpful to rev up the sexual part of your relationship. Your friend may have told you, "Don't let him have his cake and eat it too." Yeah, you'll feel vindicated withholding sex. But what will that accomplish? It's punitive; it's not healing. Show her (or him) what she (or he) be missing if he takes his business elsewhere.
About Mort Fertel
Mort Fertel is a world authority on the psychology of relationships. He has been featured as an expert on ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS and Fox television networks. His Marriage Fitness System is endorsed by a wide variety of mental-health professionals, and he has helped save thousands of marriages. Fertel graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, was the CEO of an international nonprofit organization, and is a former marathon runner. He lives with his wife and five children (including triplets!) in Baltimore.
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