In the chapter before this Gospel passage Jesus asked His disciples: “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They came up with a variety of answers. Then Jesus asked “But what about you? Who do you say that I am?” You’ll remember Simon Peter’s answer, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Well, Peter was correct. But, a couple verses later we see that Peter still did not understand the full meaning of the declaration he had made. When Jesus predicts His death, Peter takes him aside and rebukes him. “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!” To which Jesus replied: “Get behind me Satan! You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
In today’s Gospel of the Transfiguration story of the uncovering of Jesus’ face and clothing reveal who Jesus really is! Peter, James and John witnessed, if only for a moment, the glory of God revealed in the Son. This was the true Jesus. Time and stick-to-a-tive-ness in the relationship strengthened the bonds of friendship and discipleship.
The same goes for us. Every time we come together for worship or any communal gathering or interaction with another is an occasion for a mountaintop experience. Maybe it happens for you every day at the Consecration of the Mass or when you look across the chapel or the dining table. Pope Francis challenges us in his July “Pope Video” saying: “If you are the same at the end of Mass as you were at the beginning, something is wrong.” The transfiguration, in the exact way it happened in today’s Gospel, happened only once. But the disciples had many more mountaintop experiences when the REAL Jesus revealed His fullness little by little to those who took the time and interest to stay with him and to follow his lead. That’s how we build relationships, by spending time with each other; by getting to know and understanding the other, experiencing life with the other. It’s how we live out our vow of stability.
We manage to do this when we engage in the exchange at the reception of the Eucharist. Eye to eye we exchange a proclamation, not simply an announcement, of what we hold in our hands and on our lips AND who is standing right before us. “Body of Christ. Blood of Christ!” The minister greets us (hear that, greets US.) And our “AMEN”, spoken confidently, affirms our belief that we are indeed “the Body of Christ.” And in turn, it reminds us that the person holding the Precious Cup out to us is the “Body of Christ” standing right here before us in flesh and blood. But it can become routine, just words we’ve memorized. Our AMEN says we believe Jesus is here but does it move us beyond the cup to lock eyes with the person who stands in front of us?
If only, every time we open our mouth we were conscious that it is Christ using us to extend His love. If our ears heard not simply the words spoken by the other but could sense God saying, “This is my beloved child in whom I am well pleased; hear her.” How often words might die on our lips before they stir the air with sentiments that are not Christ-like. It would be the death, wouldn’t it, of criticism or harshness of tone; of hurtful and negative comments about what’s over and done, out of our control.
Benedict realizes that “peace on earth” is a utopian dream even in a community of like-minded, good-hearted people. He bades the superior to inspect beds for contraband like food and knives. He instructs community officials what to do with recalcitrant members. He recommends the recitation of the Our Father three times daily in petition for forgiveness for human frailty.
Peace most assuredly is our vision and mission. Thus, we aim to extend the peace that we wish for each other at Mass, to flow throughout the day and beyond our doors. We echo the words of Peter, James and John: “Lord, it is good for us to be here.” But Jesus reminds us not to get too comfortable: “Rise,” he says, “Tell the vision to no one.” So, how do we spread the Good News? Live it! It’s that simple!
~Reflection by Sister Roberta Bailey, OSB
August 6 was our monthly day of Recollection with Holy Hour and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrement. We pray also for our families and relatives, Oblates, guests, and benefactors. May peace reign in our world!