Transfigured by Christ
The Transfiguration of Jesus takes place in Chapter 17 of the Gospel of Matthew, and four chapters later he enters Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday. Thus, when he is transfigured, the time of his Passion isn’t very far away.
Peter, James, and John witnessed this marvelous event. They had seen Jesus do many marvelous and miraculous things. He calmed a stormy sea, walked on water, and multiplied the fish and the loaves. They also had seen him cure lepers, the blind, the mute, and many, many who had all kinds of diseases and illnesses. However, he did all this while looking like you and me. When he was transfigured, he took on a divine appearance. Peter, James, and John were given a glimpse at Jesus’ divinity. They saw him in all his glory.
The appearance of Jesus changed such that (Mt 17:2) “…his face shown like the sun and his clothes became white as light.” He was transformed. He was transfigured. It was too much for Peter, James, and John to take in. In fact, they really weren’t going to understand everything until after Jesus rose from the dead. Once Jesus rose from the dead, then Peter, James, John, and the remaining apostles were transformed for life. Their lives would never be the same.
Jesus invites us into that same kind of transformation. That same kind of transformation sounds wonderful. However, it will only happen when we truly have an encounter with Jesus. You see, lots of people know about Jesus. Lots of people have read about Jesus. However, how many of them have been transformed by their knowledge of Jesus?
What I’m talking about is truly being converted by Jesus. Lots of people who know about Jesus, or have read about him, have not changed their lives. Their knowledge about Jesus, and their faith in Jesus is purely in their head. It is not in their heart. Our faith will only be transformative when it changes everything about us. It will change how we see the world and everything in it. That kind of transformation will be like being blind, and now being able to see. It will be like being deaf, and now being able to hear. It will be like being paralyzed, and now being able to walk. It will be life changing. Many Christians have not had that kind of transformation, and that is sad. Have you, sitting in the pew listening to me right now, had that kind of transformation?
That kind of transformation will happen when we understand that we are sinners, always have been, and always will be, and at the same time we know that God will never, never, never tire of offering us his love, mercy and forgiveness. Too often we tire of asking God for forgiveness because we think he tires of hearing us asking for forgiveness for the same sins that we commit over, and over, and over again. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Those who have had a profound conversion or transformation are those who have discovered that God isn’t mad at them, but madly in love with them. Those who have had profound conversions are those who know that God doesn’t ration his love and mercy, but wants to pour as much of it as we want into our lives.
Here’s what I mean. Sometimes when someone pours us a drink, they will ask us to say “when” so that they know when to stop pouring. Those who have had a profound conversion have never said “when,” so God continues to pour his love and mercy into their lives without ever stopping.
You mean we can have all the mercy and love from God that we want? Yes, you may. You may have as much as you want, and he still has lots leftover for everyone else. That’s what we mean when we say that God’s love and mercy are infinite. You can have as much love and mercy you want, and you won’t be hogging it all for yourself.
Go ahead, ask God to love you. Go ahead, ask God to forgive you. Go ahead, and do that every day and every moment of every day. Go ahead, and remove all the obstacles you have put up between you and God. Throw them all away! Go ahead and remove that wall you have put up between you and God. Tear it down! Go ahead and get rid of all those excuses you have been using to keep God from coming into your life. Go ahead, and surrender everything to him, and I mean everything. Take out all those sins from your past, and I mean all of them, including those that bring you so much shame that you don’t even want to think about them, and hand them to Jesus.
You won’t scare him away. He won’t run away from you. He came to save you! He came to rescue you! He came to redeem you! He came to forgive you! He came to love you!
He wants you to live with joy. Yes, even though you are a sinner, you can live with joy because you have permission to be what you were created to be: a beloved child of God.
When you experience God in that way, you are like a blind person who can now see, or a deaf person who can now hear, or a paralyzed person who can now walk. Those physical miracles that Jesus performed on the blind, the deaf, and the lame, transformed their lives. That same kind of love and mercy isn’t reserved only for the people we read about in the bible. It is offered to all of you, today, and every day. God didn’t stop loving humanity when Jesus ascended to heaven. That s ame love is offered to all of you. Let it in. It is a gift given freely by God. Remove those obstacles, tear down those walls, and get rid of those excuses. Amen?
If you do that, it will change how you see the world and everything in it. You will begin to see and love as our Lord Jesus Christ sees and loves. You will begin to see that the world needs more of God’s love, and you are the person to bring the love of God to the world by the patient, kind, generous, merciful, loving, and holy way that you live your life. Amen?
As Catholics we are blessed because that isn’t the end. You mean there is more? Yes. That love of God that I’ve tried to explain to you today is present here in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is not a symbol. It is Jesus. It still looks like bread and tastes like bread. It still looks like wine and tastes like wine. However, by the power of the Holy Spirit when the words of consecration have been prayed, it has been transformed into Jesus. We are not receiving a symbol of God’s love. We are really receiving God in all his love. We receive that love because God wants us to fill the world with his love. If God can transform the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, he can certainly transform you too. Amen?
As Catholics we are blessed because that still isn’t the end. Because we are human beings that need to hear, see, and touch tangible things, Jesus left us the sacraments. Because we need to hear the words, “You are forgiven,” Jesus left us the sacrament of reconciliation. If it’s been a long time since you have been to confession, I ask you to go some time during Lent. Go and confess those sins you are so ashamed of that you don’t even want to think of them. What will the priest think of you if you confess shameful things? I will think, “Here’s a child of God who is now set from the burden of their sin to live with dignity, rather than shame.”
Forgiveness has a name, and his name is Jesus Christ. Love has a name, and his name is Jesus Christ. When you allow Jesus into your life as I have described, you will be transformed; you will be converted; you will never be the same. You will finally be a Christian; you will finally be a Catholic, not in name, but to the core of your being. That’s the kind of transformation the apostles had. That’s the kind of transformation Jesus wants you to have, and all you have to do is invite him in, and truly let him save you from all your sins, and let him love you every moment in this life, and in the next. Amen?1
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