Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Transfiguration

I love today's feast. It's not just that it is wonderful to celebrate a Feast of Our Lord. I love the Gospel accounts of the Transfiguration. It is as if almost every word is a clue. Peter and James and John; Moses and Elijah; the cloud and the dazzingly white of the Trasnfiguration; the three tents or tabernacles. Everything speaks of Christ's divinity. We just have to understand the signs.
But there is another reason why I love the account of the Transfiguration: Peter. What would Peter have done if our Lord had said, "Go on, build the three tents"? We're not told that he went up the mountain with the wherewithall for tent-building. He is impetuous and his faith is strong. But not long from now, Jesus will be talking to them about his Passion. Indeed we understand the 'lifting of the veil' that takes place at the Transfiguration as a means of strengthening the apostles' faith before the impending crucifixion. What does Peter do? He remonstrates with Jesus. He will not accept God's will. He rebels against it and earns the rebuke: "Get behind me Satan!".
We often hear that Jesus builds his Church on the rock of Peter's faith. I think we shouldn't overlook the fact that Peter is also weak and sinful. That he sometimes opposes God's will. But he is humble and he repents. The Church is built on Peter's faith but also on his humility and his sorrow for his sins.
Jesus calls us to be priests. We are not worthy of that call. He knows that we are sinners. What he asks of us is humility and, when necessary, repentance. Then his grace can work upon us. Then he will take our nothingness and use it to do incredible things.
Don't let your awareness of being a sinner become an excuse for not responding to Christ's call. We might feel like echoing Peter's words, "Depart from me Lord I am a sinful man". But the Lord doesn't abandon us. He wants to do great things with us.

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