Have you ever freely chosen to climb a mountain? The higher you climb the greater distance you can see. But we can only see when our eyes are good, when we have sufficient light and when our eyes are open to see what the light is illuminating.
So too when we climb the mountain of God’s holiness. We can see Jesus and we can choose to follow him when we have the eyes of faith and the light of Christ’s teachings. We must have a deepening faith to see the signs of the time, in moments of joy and of suffering; and we must respond to Jesus Christ as the Lord of our life and salvation, so that we do not blindly follow false leaders but rather be ready to console others in leading them to salvation.
Many people are horrified at the war in Ukraine as Putin’s communist regime of Russia continues to indiscriminately destroy many schools and hospitals, killing many citi-zens, trying to subjugate the free people of Ukraine. With the eyes of faith, we can see how Christ is suffering with the people of Ukraine, and that many are willing to sacrifice their comfort to fight against the evil of communism and defend their lives, their Christian faith, and their homes.
Another battle for the salvation of body and soul exists in Communist China. Xi Jinping and his communist regime have targeted hundreds of Catholic churches and schools for destruction, as well as Buddhist temples and Muslim Uygars. They are freely choosing to discriminate against traditional religions that do not agree with their form of communism where God’s people are completely controlled by government officials.
Although these battles are fought, we know that Jesus Christ has won the victory of life and salvation for those who obey his teachings through his Catholic Church. For Jesus Christ is the light of faith, and he freely chose from among his 12 Apostles three of his closest Apostles: Peter, James, and John to climb Mount Tabor with him. This was not to dis-criminate unjustly against the other apostles, but rather to accomplish God’s plan of our salvation, the salvation that comes by listening to God’s only Son, who is truth, and to avoid listening to the devil’s lies.
Shortly before this event on Mount Tabor, Jesus had given authority and power to the Twelve Apostles to cast out demons and cure the sick, and to proclaim the Kingdom of God. He chose these men to be servants of God and of all people, by sharing with them that God is all loving and all just. We believe that God rewards just and holy thoughts, actions and deeds, and punishes evil thoughts, actions and deeds out of love in order to have the sinner turn to him and repent, for he wants to forgive and bring all people to salvation.
After giving them authority and power, Jesus reminded them that as the Messiah, Jesus and his leaders must serve God first and then all people with true love, especially those most in need. And yet, even as Jesus did this perfectly, he would be rejected by many people and some leaders and be killed with the support of those who are blind; but then be raised to new and eternal light and life three days later. The transfiguration foreshadows this light of glory.
In the light of the transfiguration God’s glory was not reflecting off Jesus, but rather emanating from Jesus Christ. This theophany, this revelation of God’s divinity in Christ, showed them that he truly was the Son of God who was doing God’s holy will, which included going to Jerusalem. There he was to speak the truth and therefore be openly mocked and crucified by some of the leaders and other people of whom he was calling to conversion, that they too would repent and climb the mountain of holiness.
What increases our hope is that the three Apostles see Moses and Elijah with Jesus, representing the Law and the Prophets. For Moses received God’s Ten Commandments of life, love, and freedom after climbing Mount Sinai. These commandments are a sign of God’s loving covenant between himself and the people he rescued from Egyptian slavery through his chosen leader Moses.
Since God created all people and then rescued the Israelites from Egyptian slavery through Moses, you would think that all people would want to follow God and his appointed leaders. But throughout history certain people and certain leaders be-gan to break God’s Ten Commandments and thus became en-snared in the consequences of their sins and brought about natural and moral tragedies upon themselves and those around them.
Yet, God in his compassion would send his prophets to help the people get back to the fundamentals of life, true love and holiness. That is why Elijah also appeared while Jesus was transfigured, for he represents all of God’s true prophets. And when he was living on earth, he climbed Mount Carmel to challenge and defeat the false prophets of Baal who the people of God began to follow blindly.
Jesus Christ inspired his Catholic Church to reflect on the Transfiguration so that we would never lose hope that Jesus is God, and that through the joys, sorrows and uncertainties of life, we are called to follow God’s Ten Commandments and be prophets of his grace, truth and mercy. In this manner we can grow in holiness as the saints of God have always done, through prayer, true worship, helping the poor, fasting and learning and passing on the faith through evangelization.
The greatest saint, of course, is the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary, the Mother of Jesus and all who were baptized into him, has appeared in many places throughout the world, even recently allegedly appearing in Ukraine, to tell people to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to repent, to pray for sinners, help the poor, defend the vulnerable and forgive for the sake of heaven’s love.
She knew that this would help all of us climb the mountain of holiness to adore our Eucharistic Lord, as well as mitigate the punishment due to the world’s sins while we enter the valley of working to proclaim Christ’s Gospel and defend the life of every human being, especially preborn babies, children, the elderly, the sick and the poor.
One thing is for certain, that Jesus Christ, his Mother Mary, and all his Saints will help us be transfigured by God’s grace at the summit of our faith – Jesus in the Holy Eucharist – and then together we will be able to transform the world around us into a place of true peace, true worship and true love, where Jesus Christ is perfectly honored, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary will triumph.
Peace in Christ,
Fr. Thomas McCabe