dazzled by light

this winter i have been making fires in our fireplace. it is mesmerizing to watch the flames dance. the warmth that flows forward is comforting and reassuring.

i like to envision the presence of the Holy Spirit in the flames

i have been thinking too about near death experiences of people. many people who have seeming come back to life after tasting death talk about a wonderful brightness; an indescribable light; otherworldly warmth. many describe walking toward this light as if in a tunnel.

as much as we know about light in the scientific world, there is much more to learn about light in the spiritual realm. jesus says in john’s gospel, “i am the light of the world” (8: 12 and 9:5) in this context, darkness is ignorance of divine things; jesus brings a true knowing of the things of God.

in today’s gospel for mass (mark 9: 2-10; read it at the end), we hear the mystery of the transfiguration. we hear that jesus’

“…clothes became dazzling white,
such as no fuller on earth could bleach them”

it is a foretaste of jesus’ resurrection. the images of both fire and light are powerful in our being and in our faith.

jesus is changed into something that peter, james, and john had never seen before. and it dazzled them. in his amazement and desire to remember and honor this extraordinary encounter, peter want to memorialize the moment. in the end, jesus stands alone– greater than moses and elijah. jesus stands as the beloved of the Father.

but they do not understand the fullness of jesus going beyond his humanity because they have not seen jesus go to calvary suffer, die and then rise. peter, james and john have not had their pentecost moment. there is no way that they could know the meaning of this divine encounter. jesus’ followers are too embedded in their earthly ways. we must “listen to him.”

peter, james and john must come down the mountain, continue to listen, walk and learn from jesus. these will be difficult life lessons. they will learn with the cross means– not through mere words but through their own experiences of it.

so it is for us too.

we get glimpses of the glory of jesus in order to be not solely defined by the voices and values of this world. we can struggle to move beyond the comforts of our memorialized images of jesus to something more. we can forget the promise of jesus to revel in his grace-filled, loving presence. indeed jesus is the light of the world.

will jesus’ transfigured real presence in the eucharist dazzle us today? will the light of Christ and flame of fire from the Spirit sustain us in the crosses we bear?

let us pray:

At the transfiguration, Father, You showed
Jesus in glory, a glimpse of what His disciples
would see in His risen life.

Bless us in our humanity,
with an awareness of Your presence,
leading us to share in Your divine life
even in our daily struggle.

Help us to deepen
our knowledge of the Law and Prophets,
channels of Your grace throughout history,
and signposts for our journey. Amen.

from: https://columban.org/content/prayer-transfiguration-our-lord


Jesus took Peter, James, and John 
and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them, 
and his clothes became dazzling white, 
such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.
Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, 
and they were conversing with Jesus.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, 
“Rabbi, it is good that we are here!
Let us make three tents: 
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.
Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; 
from the cloud came a voice, 
“This is my beloved Son.  Listen to him.”
Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone
but Jesus alone with them.

As they were coming down from the mountain,
he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone,
except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
So they kept the matter to themselves, 
questioning what rising from the dead meant.

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