Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord
(Daniel 7:9-10.13-14; II Peter 1:16-19; Luke 9:28b-36)
Ted Kennedy wrote in his memoirs of an experience he had as a youth. His father, who was a successful businessman and diplomat, told him: “You can have a serious life or a non-serious life, Teddy; I’ll still love you whichever choice you make. But if you decide to have a non-serious life, I won’t have much time for you…. There are too many children here who are doing things that are interesting for me to do much with you.” Those words settled deep in the future senator’s brain and made a great difference in his life. With good reason we opposed Ted Kennedy’s position on abortion, but we admired him for his tireless support of the uninsured and undocumented.
Jesus’ prayer in the account of the Transfiguration today reminds us of the conversation between Ted Kennedy and his father. Dialoguing with the Father, Jesus becomes aware of the violent death with the glorious outcome that awaits him in Jerusalem. He does not shrink from it. Quite the contrary, he embraces it as his conversation with Moses and Elijah indicates. The first liberated the Israelites in Egypt; the second suffered to keep the people from idolatry. Like them, Jesus will liberate humankind from slavery to sin. His suffering will strengthen the people from idolizing pleasure, power, or possessions.
Each of us if we examine our lives closely has had experiences like Jesus’. That is, like Ted Kennedy, we have had a glimpse of the possibility of knowing God intimately by living a righteous life. We know that such a life requires effort and will not be free of pain. But we also know that God, who loves us more than we can imagine, will reward our effort abundantly.