Listen to Him

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Church of the Transfiguration, Mount Tabor

This is my beloved Son, listen to Him. (Matthew 17:5)

So spoke the Lord of heaven, the Ancient One who sits upon a throne of divine fire. He judges all things—all of history and every soul. And He said to Peter, James, and John, about Jesus: “This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him.” He says to us: Listen to Jesus.

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Listen to His parables of the coming of the Kingdom of heaven and His call to repentance. Listen to the Sermon on the Mount. Listen to His discourse to Nicodemus about being born from above, His Bread-of-Life discourse, His teachings about Abraham’s freedom, the sabbath rest, the faith of the little one, and the resurrection of the dead. Listen to Him describe the Good Shepherd. Listen to His Last-Supper discourses and His descriptions of the final judgment. Listen to His prayers: the Our Father and His priestly prayer in John 17. Listen to His commissionings: His instructions to St. Peter, and to all His apostles. Listen to His promises: the Beatitudes, His promise to send the Holy Spirit, His promise of peace—peace which the world cannot give. Listen to the Word made flesh.

St. Peter put it like this:

We did not follow cleverly disguised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses to His majesty.

We do not deal in myths. We do not deal in merely human doctrines. We listen to the Lord Jesus.

What do we need? We need the four holy gospels and the other writings of the apostles. In other words, we need the New Testament. And since the New Testament constantly refers to the Old Testament, we need the whole Bible. We need the seven sacraments Christ gave us: His Body and Blood, the waters of His baptism, the priesthood of the New Covenant He established. We need each other, the great family of the Church, governed by St. Peter’s successor in office and the bishops in communion with him.

Gerard David TransfigurationEquipped with all this, we can hear Christ. We can hear the beloved Son of the eternal Father. We can hear Him speaking. The words to which God Almighty commands us to listen—we can hear them and take them to heart, here in the bosom of the Church.

Do not be anxious or afraid. Let the children come unto Me. Love your enemies. Pray that you might persevere through temptation. Baptize all nations in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Give your cloak and tunic to the one who asks, and settle with your opponent before the judge throws you both in prison. Beg for mercy before you place your gift on the altar. Fear the one who can send you to fiery Gehenna, where the worm never dies. Have faith in God; have faith in Me; in My Father’s house there are many dwelling places. Let your light shine, so that men might give glory to My heavenly Father. Do good; avoid evil. Ask the Father to send the Spirit of truth.

Listening to Jesus, in the heart of the Church, turns life into something worth doing. The words of Christ turn life into the adventure it was meant to be. The adventure of holiness and eternal salvation.

Why are we here? To serve God and make our way to heaven. What must we do? Give. Love. Sacrifice. Give God the glory and praise. Make peace with your neighbor.

The Transfiguration is real. And it’s not just Jesus on Mount Tabor. Yes, at that moment, the divine light transfigured His appearance, and the apostles saw His glory. But the transfiguration also involves us. When we listen to Christ in the heart of the Church, we change.

We no longer skate on the surface of things. We stop thinking everything revolves around me, me, me. Our perception deepens, and Access Hollywood becomes intolerably boring. Our souls begin to grow like redwoods.

We stop carping and gossiping and tearing people down, because now we see the good in others. We talk less and listen more. When someone suffers, we care. And when we suffer, we offer it to God for the salvation of souls.

The words of Christ hang in the air, in the Church, like shimmering tapestries that beautify the inside of our minds. But, of course, Christ spoke most eloquently without any words at all, when He serenely submitted Himself to His bitter Passion and stretched-out His arms on the cross. All the spoken words of Christ lead to the silent word of the crucifix.

God gives us wisdom. He wills to teach us, so that we can share in the full clarity of His mind. And He teaches us His wisdom one way, as He declared on Mount Tabor: Almighty God speaks to us through His beloved Son, Christ crucified.

When we hear that silent word, and take it in, in the heart of the Church, then our transfiguration truly begins.

Lamp in a Dark Place

Attend to the prophetic message as to a lamp shining in a dark place. 2 Peter 1:19

‘Prophetic.’ To prophesy means announcing something that would otherwise remain unknown. A prophecy gives us other-worldly knowledge.

Transfiguration-raphaelThe prophetic message, to which we must attend: Jesus is Lord. Jesus is Alpha and Omega, beginning and end. A light shines within Him–the unique, undying light, from which all creation has come.

This lamp–the light of Jesus Christ’s otherworldly divinity–His immeasurable mystery–this lamp shines in a dark place.

Seems like this question comes up over and over and over again. Fiftieth anniversary of Vatican II–let’s tackle it again. Is this world a dark place?

Today we pray especially for the Christians of Iraq, who certainly suffer in a painful kind of darkness, the darkness of having irrational enemies with loaded guns pointed at you and your children. And we pray for their neighbors, other religious minorities in the Middle East, suffering alongside our brother Christians. As they mourn their countless dead, they would likely say, ‘Yes, this is a dark world.’

But: When we prophetically declare to the dark world, ‘Jesus is Lord!’ we simultaneously say, “God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son.”

God does not love evil. God does not love darkness. God loves shimmering sunsets and a cup of good wine. He came to live in the beautiful world He made. He confounded the Pharisees with the way He took delight in His friends, and music, and a pleasant evening.

Let’s focus on this concept: Redemption. God came to redeem, not to destroy. Redemption implies two things:

1. This world enslaves. The evils of this world bind and fetter with base selfishness. We cannot even see the way to escape, much less have the strength to follow it. On any given day, any given web-search, the world looks hopeless.

But redemption also implies:

2. Freedom does await. The true, vivid color of the world lies hidden in shadows. But it’s there. It can come out. I’m not gay, I just love rainbows.

The Feast of the Transfiguration, the feast of hope. God loves tomorrow; He does not hate it. He will shine even more light tomorrow, until the undying dawn of the everlasting day.