Saturday, February 23, 2013

Who is Jesus?

            Today we hear about the transfiguration of Jesus.  This is a very interesting and mysterious event in the life of Jesus, where we see and learn many things about Christ.  When Jesus is transfigured there we catch a glimpse of the glory that awaits our savior on the other side of his crucifixion.  So as we journey towards Easter in this season of Lent, we can keep this image of Christ in glory before us.  This image should fill us with hope as we enter again into the suffering and death of our savior.  We see here Jesus conversing with Moses and Elijah.  This reminds us of the continuity of the gospel with the Law and the Prophets.  Jesus comes to fulfill the promises of old. 
            So there is a great deal for us to contemplate in this story of the Transfiguration, but as I was praying with this passage over the past week, something really stood out to me.  The words of God the Father can be heard: this is my chosen Son, listen to him.  The gospels were written not just to tell us about the life of a man who lived 2000 years ago.  The gospels were written to tell us who Jesus is.  And the words and actions of Jesus take on much more importance when we realize just who Jesus is. 
If we really believe and acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God, then the command of the Father is really the only choice: listen to him.  There is no other option.  If Jesus is God, the Word through whom all things were made, then he alone will have the words of eternal life.  He alone will be able to guide us where we long to go.  I always find it somewhat troubling when I'm conversing with someone who will say: I know the Church teaches x, but I don't really believe that.  How can that be possible?  How did we get into this situation where it seems acceptable for good people simply to reject the teachings of the gospel that they don't like? 
            I think it is a problem of identity.  We believe and profess that when the Church teaches in the name of Christ, it is Christ himself who teaches.  And who is Jesus: he is the chosen Son of the Father: listen to him.  The season of Lent is a great time to listen anew to the voice of Christ in the Scriptures and in the teachings of the Church.  We believe he is the Son of God, and we believe that if we follow him, he will lead us to new life, not only in the eternal life to come, but also new life in this present age.  This is the promise of the Gospel, if we follow Jesus we have citizenship in heaven. 
            We have a great example of listening to the voice of the Lord in St. Paul.  St. Paul, of course, heard the voice of Christ that day on the way to Damascus, and his life was never the same.  He saw in Jesus the only one who could lead him to eternal life.  This is why he knows that our citizenship is in heaven.  And, today he tells us to imitate him: to listen to the voice of Christ, to follow his guidance.
            During the rest of the season of Lent we will hear the words of Jesus in our scripture readings.  We should keep the message of God the Father in our minds and hearts: this is my chosen Son, listen to him.  This Lent will be a wonderful opportunity to deepen our faith in Christ, to recognize him as the Son of God.  And when we recognize him as the Son of God, it gives new vitality to his words.  Not only will we hear the words of Jesus, we will also celebrate the Holy Eucharist, the sacrament of Christ's body and blood.  As we hear his voice in Scripture and see him present on this altar, hopefully the voice of the Father will resonate in our hearts: this is my chosen Son, listen to him.

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