Pastor’s Homily — Transfiguration of the Lord

This summer, even if you don’t go to movies, it’s pretty hard to avoid the fanfare around two blockbusters released at the same time with vastly different plots and backstories: Barbie and Oppenheimer.

Barbie – well, I’m not the one to talk about her.  You’d have to ask my sisters.  I did work at a Mattel factory and warehouse in Edison one summer in college putting together Barbie’s Doll House, but it was a pretty forgettable experience.

Oppenheimer – of course referring to Robert Oppenheimer, the physicist and director of the Los Alamos Laboratory, ultimately responsible for producing the first nuclear weapons.

Over the years, many Catholic preachers – me included – have noted the huge contrast of this day, August 6.  For us as Catholics, it’s the Solemnity of the Transfiguration of the Lord.  And August 6 is also the anniversary of the first use of nuclear weapons over a civilian population, in Hiroshima, Japan.

This contrast – between transfiguration and the ultimate disfiguration – is far from abstract today.  Today in Russia, we have an indicted war criminal running a country who thinks nothing of invading a sovereign country, bombing their hospitals and shelters and kidnapping or killing their children.  What’s to stop this infidel from using the many nuclear weapons he has?

On a smaller scale, the daily choices we make to govern our lives have impact on whether we’re moving our little part of the world more toward transfiguration and positive transformation in Christ, or disfiguration and destruction.

Do we want to experience positive transformation, divinization, transfiguration?  There’s some hard work, discipline and incremental changes that are part of the process.  At the very least, we have to put ourselves in position for good things to happen.  Today the disciples symbolize this by climbing that high mountain to put themselves in such position.  Prayer is always a good position, for example.

We are also always in a process of becoming, and hopefully becoming our true self in Christ.  So we want to avoid moments where, like Peter, we want things to freeze and stop developing.  We need to think of our life more as a verb than a noun.  And our Christ-centered attentiveness and listening and responding to the people and creation around us will go a long way toward transforming our orbits.  Think of “Transfiguration” as the title of the movie which is your life, and let Christ direct it from there.

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