In case you haven’t noticed I really love Scripture. I really do love the Word of God. It is alive as St. Paul tells us. It is God speaking to us revealing his love and how we are to respond to his love. It is as pertinent today as it was when it was written. It is the Word of God and it is speaking to us today about things that are going on in our life as a community.
Last week I was challenging you to consider a different kind of Lent where your focus was on the community and not yourself. At the dismissal rite, at the end of mass, the Deacon sends you off in peace and one of the options is to say “Go in Peace and live the Gospel.
I have experienced vibrant parishes and I have experienced parishes that seem to be disconnected from living the gospel. During a recent visit to family in New Orleans we attended mass at two different parishes. I was shocked to see how disengaged everyone was from participation in a celebration of Christ’s life, death and resurrection. The apathy was not just the congregation, it was the priest, the cantor, the ushers, the servers, the greeters – it was more like a wake than an encounter with God.
As we left I picked up a bulleting just to see if there was life beyond the mass. The bulletin was lacking in promoting spiritual growth opportunities, youth groups, bible studies or any activity that showed people were involved in any kind of community life or service to each other and the community. It was a wakeup call or a vision of what can happen if we do not begin to search our hearts to discover how to hear God calling us to follow him and serve him.
Today we have the gospel reminding us to take time to discover the reality of who Jesus truly is. I do not know what Peter, James and John expected to do with Jesus as they walked up that mountain with him but it certainly they were not expecting to see that vision. This is a clue for us to understand what Christ wants us to see and experience. It is a clue for us to be open to see him when we pray, when we encounter him in the scriptures, when we meditate on his death and resurrection. He wants us to be firm in our belief and firm in our willingness to do his will.
This gospel is God teaching us to see in Jesus’ transfiguration a vision of our own transfiguration if we allow the Spirit to make us holy. It is God teaching us to do his will instead of our own by always listening to him.
We exist as a Church to evangelize. Christ desires us to give witness to our faith in every aspect of our lives – not just when we are in church or performing some service for the church. He wants us to become visible witnesses of his mercy in every aspect of the things we do and in the way we do it. But it is all to easy to get caught up with doing activities – busy work for the Lord. It is easy to escape encountering Christ by becoming involved in building booths – of immersing ourselves in some activity. Peters reaction to what he saw shows us just how easy it is to desire mystical moments instead of using mystical moments to help others understand.
Matthew gives us the key to our being able to become disciples rather than someone who just goes to Church and then goes home unchanged. We have to be present to God to hear his voice and we have to be still enough long enough to hear him speak to our hearts.
We have been taught that Christ is the foundation of our Church and salvation comes from Christ and Christ alone. We need to learn how to encounter him as Peter, James and John did on that mountain. We need to be following Jesus in order to be in that place where we will see and experience the reality of what his death did for us. It actually changed our status from sinner to being clothed in his righteousness. It gave us access to the Father and gave us access to the power of the Spirit to continue our transformation into saints.
We should desire more than just to participate in the mass. We should desire to have an encounter with Jesus here on Sunday in the Eucharist and in the Word that is proclaimed and in the people surrounding us. We should desire that encounter to be so great we like Peter we would want to stay there instead of hurrying out to get on with life.
Then as we do leave we should expect to bring that vision with us so that it fuels our life and causes us to give witness to our faith. We should in every aspect of our daily life be bold and show that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection gives meaning and purpose to our life. We are to be unafraid because we have seen him, we have heard him and we are listening to him.
We are not to keep silent about what we have encountered as these three were instructed because our mission is to bear witness to our savior. How well are we doing that? How eager are we to speak of our love of Jesus to everyone and anyone? Did our encounter with Jesus today cause us to worship with our hearts, minds and bodies? If not don’t you desire that it did each week? It can if you seek to have your own encounter with the risen Christ. Then as you change tell someone else so they can change. Then the two of you go out and tell two more. Then go tell four more, and eventually thousands will have changed.
Our encounter with Jesus should be one of those things that bring joy to our hearts, a smile to our lips and voice to our belief.