Today we celebrate Jesus being transfigured atop Mount Tabor. Why? What's the big deal?
The ninth chapter of the Gospel of Luke is of critical importance. Jesus sends out the twelve with authority "over all demons" (Luke 9:1). He feeds the 5,000 (Luke 9:10-17) and Peter acknowledges that Jesus is indeed the long-awaited Messiah (Luke 9:18-21). However, the chapter shifts when Jesus confesses that the "Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed" (Luke 9:22). Thus, in Luke 9:51 we hear that "When the days for his being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem." Jesus was "determined." With his Passion and death awaiting him at the end of the journey, Jesus was "resolutely determined" to start His triumphant journey. However, just before Jesus starts the march to Jerusalem, "he took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray. While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white." (Luke 9:28-29)
Jesus is transfigured ... before they begin the march to Jerusalem. Knowing everything that awaits both Him and His disciples in His Passion, Jesus takes His most trusted Apostles up the mountain so that they experience the transfigured light. There will be unparalleled darkness on Good Friday ... and before all that happens, Jesus wants to remind us all that light always shines in the darkness. Peter will need to remember this. James and John will need to remember this. You and I need to remember this. Light always shines in the darkness.
Physics reminds us that darkness is simply the absence of light. In other words, there is no such thing as "dark" molecules and "light" molecules ... as if they wage war against each other and miraculously the "light" molecules always win. No, darkness is simply the absence of light. Therefore, when we allow God in, God always enters. God is perfect light ... for the Scriptures remind us: "God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all." (1st John 1:5)
Deeply embedded in our anxiety can be a silent lie that sounds like this: "God is not big enough to overcome the things in my life." Eh hem ... He already has. He conquered death. He opened up Heaven. All things were created through Him. He is bigger than your fear. He is bigger than your challenges. He is bigger than you are facing now. Therefore, if you let Him into your darkness He will fill it with light ... I promise you.
Happy Feast Day. Be not afraid. Light is triumphant, God is big. Let His light shine in your darkness.
© Fr. Mark Toups, 2013
UNPACKING THIS PAST WEEKEND'S HOMILY
This past weekend we talked about anxiety and where do we go with our anxiety. One of the things that creates anxiety is feeling alone in the "darkness". Perhaps today you can pray with Matthew 8:23-27, the scene of Jesus "sleeping in the storm". Be there. Be in the scene. What's your storm? What are you facing in life? How does it feel to have Jesus "sleeping" in your storm. Then ... you ask Him to wake up. He does and commands the storm to stop. What's it like to experience His power? What does He say to you about your storm?
"Those who believe in Jesus do not lead lives of perpetual sunshine, as though they could be spared suffering and hardship; but there is always a bright glimmer there, lighting up the path that leads to fullness of life. The eyes of those who believe in Christ see light even amid the darkest night and they already see the dawning of a new day."
― Address to Young People, Freiburg, Germany, September 24, 2011