Thursday, August 6, and Friday, August 7, 2015

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord

(Daniel 7:9-10.13-14; II Peter 1:16-19; Mark 9:2-10)

Christianity is till prevalent in America and Europe.  Experts say that the situation is changing, however.  In short time most people may not know more about Jesus than about the Hindu god Vishnu.  But for the time being at least people have some idea of what it means to rise from the dead. 

But what may be said of the time before Jesus’ resurrection?  Would the people living in the year 10 or 20 have any idea of what to rise from the dead means?  Would even Jesus’ apostles have said that the concept is mere wishful thinking?  Very possibly they would. The resurrection from the dead would have boggled their minds like the idea of people carrying about devices that access files at home would have seemed incredible just a generation ago. 

Today’s gospel relates how God gives Jesus’ disciples clues about what to expect when Jesus is raised from the dead.  It tells of how Jesus’ body will be changed into a realm of light so bright that his clothes glow.  It reports that his new form of being will allow him to communicate with saints long dead.  It even confirms the vision by mentioning the voice from the cloud naming Jesus “my beloved son.”  The purpose of the narrative then is to obviate some of the inevitable doubt that arises when a dead person is reported as alive.  Since they will have to proclaim the resurrection, the disciples need to be convinced that it happened.  Here their leaders, at least, are being prepared for that event.

Friday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Deuteronomy 4: 32-40; Matthew 16:24-28)

Aboard the ship Arbella just before landing in Boston harbor, Governor John Winthrop told the Puritan colonists of the Massachusetts Bay Colony that they must be like a ¨city on a hill¨ for the world to see and imitate.  In time these words will give rise to the idea of “American exceptionalism,” by which the nation is considered enlightened and trustworthy beyond other peoples.  Of course, Governor Winthrop was making a reference to Jesus´ Sermon on the Mount, but his words also echo Moses´ in the reading from Deuteronomy today.

Moses reminds the Israelites of God´s special interest in them.   God has led them from captivity in Egypt to freedom.  He has carefully weeded them of vices and formed them into His holy people.  Now, Moses says, the people must respond to the Lord´s particular kindness by keeping His laws and statutes.  In this way they will testify to the world of God´s own righteousness.

We Catholics should consider ourselves every bit as chosen as the Puritans and the Israelites.  God has called us by name in Baptism and has fed us with the body and blood of His Son in the Eucharist.  Our lives should reflect the intimacy in which God has held us.  It should also summon others to experience the same.