Feast of the Transfiguration 2017


     A few years ago, the business writer Warren Berger proposed 5 questions that every good business should frequently ask themselves.[1] His five questions were 1. Why are we here in the first place? 2. What does the world need most that we are uniquely able to provide? 3. What are we willing to sacrifice? 4. What matters more than money? 5. Are we all on this mission together?  While these 5 questions are designed to help businesses stay focused on their mission, I think they apply perfectly to the practice of our faith.

     How can we succeed if we don’t know what success is? How can we actively live out our faith, if we don’t know what the purpose of our faith is? Sadly, I don’t think most people actually know what the purpose of the Church is. All you have to do is listen to the news pundits try to talk about Church matters, to see how misunderstood our Church’s purpose is. The mission statement of the Catholic Church is actually very simple. The mission of the Catholic Church is the salvation of souls.[2] Simply put the Catholic Church exists to lead people to life in Christ. Everything the Church does; all our sacraments, prayers, teachings, and works should be ordered to the salvation of souls.

     While it is important to know the mission of the Church if we want to be a part of the Church, it is just as important that we understand how that applies to our life. It can be so easy for us to get stuck in a rut, where we practice our faith, but we never step back to ask ourselves, what the goal of our faith is. The account of the Transfiguration we just heard in our Gospel should shake us from our complacency because hidden beneath the odd event of the transfiguration this account teaches us exactly what the mission of the Church is and how we live out that mission. If we take a moment to consider the specific details of today’s Gospel we see that Jesus is showing us exactly what our mission statement is and how to live it.

     When we hear today’s Gospel, the first thing we notice is that Jesus took Peter, James and John up the hill. But Jesus didn’t force them up the mountain, no Peter, James and John willingly followed our Lord up the mountain, not sure what was waiting for them at the top, only to witness the transfiguration. In following Jesus up the mountain these apostles show us that if we are willing to follow Christ up the mountain of life, even when we are not sure what awaits us at the top, it will eventually lead to our own glorification.

     Secondly, we notice that Moses and Elijah were present on the top of the mountain. If you recall in the Old Testament, Moses lead God’s chosen people out of Egypt into the desert where God gave Moses the 10 Commandments, Elijah was the great prophet. The presence of Moses and Elijah remind us how eternal life is revealed. Their presence at the transfiguration shows us that God’s plan for salvation, which began with Abraham, continued through Moses, the lawgiver passed through Elijah the prophet and is brought to fulfillment in Christ. The Transfiguration is a reminder that our salvation does not come from ourselves. No, our salvation ultimately comes from Christ, through the law and the prophets.

     Thirdly we notice hear that as Jesus was transfigured, the Heavenly Father speaks and tells us to listen to His Son. Our mission in the Church is simply to listen to Jesus Christ. If we want to be transfigured at the end of our life, we need to stop and listen to Christ.

     Fourthly, the present of Peter, James and John show us exactly how to follow Christ towards our transfiguration. Peter was the apostle who loved the Lord the most. James was the first apostle to die as a martyr, out of love for God. John is the apostle that Jesus loved the most. Their presence is a simple lesson, reminding us that those who are tied to God in love will eternal into life.

     Today’s feast of the Transfiguration reminds us of the mission of the Church and how we are to live it out. Answering those 5 questions of Warren Berger reminds us that all of us are here to become saints, the Church uniquely provides all that is needed for us to become saints, we should be willing to sacrifice everything to become a saint, certainly sainthood is worth more than anything money can buy, and the Church calls us to pursue that goal of sainthood in community here at the parish. Today’s feast of the Transfiguration invites us to put everything in perspective. It invites us to see our call to sainthood and to see that the Church’s mission is to make us saints. So, if we want our own transfiguration at the end of time, we simply must heed the words of Christ and follow Him in the Church. While this is certainly easier said than done, at least we know our mission and how to live it out.

[1] Warren Berger. Forget the Mission Statement. What’s Your Mission Question? Accessible at https://www.fastcodesign.com/1672137/forget-the-mission-statement-whats-your-mission-question

[2] Canon Law # 1752

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