Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother,
and led them up a high mountain by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them;
his face shone like the sun
and his clothes became white as light.
And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them,
conversing with him.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Lord, it is good that we are here.
If you wish, I will make three tents here,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, behold,
a bright cloud cast a shadow over them,
then from the cloud came a voice that said,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased;
listen to him.”
When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate
and were very much afraid.
But Jesus came and touched them, saying,
“Rise, and do not be afraid.”
And when the disciples raised their eyes,
they saw no one else but Jesus alone.
As they were coming down from the mountain,
Jesus charged them,
“Do not tell the vision to anyone
until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
March 11th, 2017
Sometime ago, Fr. Charlie Gagan, our previous pastor, asked me to meet him in his office. For those of you who know Charlie, you also know that you never leave his office having said, “No.” At this meeting, Charlie asked me to join the parish’s RCIA team. RCIA is the process by which adults enter into full communion with the Catholic church. Sometimes this means just being confirmed and other times it may mean being Baptized along with receiving First Communion and being Confirmed. Anyway, it really didn’t take much convincing on Charlies part to get me to say, “Yes.”
As we put together the curriculum over that summer, I found myself really anticipating the start of the classes. I was a confirmation sponsor in the past and found that experience really rewarding. And so I was eager to share my faith with those wanting to enter Catholicism.
As classes got underway, we were introduced to a host of people from various walks of life who had each made the decision to follow the call to become Catholic. Now, I’m a cradle Catholic, all I know is the faith. But there is something truly inspiring about meeting folks who choose to commit themselves to our Catholic tradition at the adult stage of their life. Their backgrounds, their stories, their motivations for joining our church, are each so intimate, so moving, and deeply touching. For me, being privileged enough to share this portion of their spiritual journey is an honor beyond measure. It goes well beyond just preparing them for the sacraments. It remains one of the highlights of my ministry. I have made lifelong friends with many of those who have been a part of RCIA these many years.
The pinnacle event in the RCIA experience is the receiving of the Sacraments at the Easter Vigil mass. On a side note, I believe that if they gave out Tony Awards for masses, Saint Ignatius would win hands down for the Vigil mass. It is far and away the most gorgeous, most majestic, and just plain awe inspiring mass of the year. At the mass, all the Catechumens and Candidates along with their sponsors fill the sanctuary and with the fullest sense of joy, receive the sacraments. It is an emotional experience with family members in the pews crying tears of happiness and the entire church smiling. It’s beautiful.
Today’s gospel passage depicts the Transfiguration. Jesus invites those closest to him, Peter, James, and John, to accompany him up a mountainside. There Jesus changes form before them. His face shown white like the sun and his clothes became white as light. Moses and Elijah were seen conversing with Jesus. The apostles stood in amazement, not knowing what to make of this.
For the longest time, the apostles walked and talked with Jesus, ate with him, and learned from him. Now they see Jesus change form and appearance. The apostles witnessed countless miracles at the hand of Jesus but this time it was Jesus who became the miracle. Jesus with Moses and Elijah in dazzling white.
As I prayed and reflected upon the Transfiguration in preparation for today, I kept envisioning Jesus in white garments. This led me to recall the Easter Vigil mass when the Catechumens who were just baptized are presented to the community each wearing white albs. They stand before everyone transformed, just as Jesus was on that mountainside.
When the disciples saw Jesus transfigured, radiating light, in the presence of Moses and Elijah, they saw Jesus as he truly was; both God and man. When the newly baptized stand before the entire assembly on the night of the vigil, dressed in white, we all see them for what they truly are; a part of the mystical body of Jesus here and now.
Ever since I heard Fr. Greg deliver this one line, I always remember it the night of the vigil mass. Greg said, “The body of Christ would be incomplete without each one of us.” Never does this sentiment ring more true than the night that we welcome the newest members of our church.
At one point in our lives, each one of us here heard Christ call us. The same call the disciples heard to follow Jesus up that mountainside and the same call the folks in RCIA heard to become Catholic. It’s listening to that call that has us all gathered here. Also, and most importantly, it is our response to that call that defines who we are. It is not our political or social views that make up who we are. It is our willingness to accept that we, now, as a community, make up the body of Jesus here on earth. This remains our identity. We model this identity when this diverse gathering of believers approaches this altar, as one, united in Christ sharing in the Eucharist.