Mike’s Meditations: Desiring Our Own Transfiguration

by Mike Van Vranken

When we read the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus, we sometimes talk about the awe of this miracle. And, it is awesome. Jesus’ face and clothing turn white as snow while Elijah and Moses are talking with him. It is a scene too difficult to really imagine. But how do we use this scene in our daily lives? Or, asked another way: “Am I living the Christian life with such oneness with the Spirit of the Risen Christ within me, that I am transfigured like Jesus?” When people look at me, do I look different than others around me? By living the gospel of Jesus, have I become so transfigured that others will see that I am set apart, and they therefore desire to have what I have? Here’s how Jesus put it: “This is how they will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” John 13:35. In other words, when we truly love one another, we will look different to others – transfigured!

It might be useful to determine how we are to love one another. St. Paul writes: “Love is patient . . .” 1 Cor 13:4. Have you ever prayed for patience? According to Paul, patience is one of the characteristics of love. In his letter to the Galatians, he lists patience as a fruit of the Spirit that begins with love. How will I know if I love all of God’s children? I just ask myself: “Am I patient with all of God’s children?” If not, according to Paul, I don’t love them all. I need to take this to prayer and ask God to reveal to me all of the people in this world that I do not have patience with. Without patience, I’m not being loving and, consequently, I’m not transfigured. Oh, and one more thing, if I say I love God, I must have patience with Him too!

“Love is kind” 1 Cor 13:4. What does kind mean? Indulgent, considerate, helpful, humane, respectful, thoughtful, having a desire to help others, and charitable are just a few of the definitions of being kind. If I gossip, I’m not very kind. If I criticize or degrade or demean someone’s dignity, I’m not very kind. In other words, I’m not loving. There is certainly no transfiguration for me if I’m not kind.

Paul goes on to say that love is not jealous, or pompous or inflated or rude. It doesn’t seek its own interests and is not quick tempered, nor does it brood over injury (doesn’t hold grudges) 1 Cor 13:4-7. If I want people to see I’m a disciple of Jesus, I cannot be any of these.

And this is the part I really like. Paul says: “if there is knowledge, it will be brought to nothing” 1 Cor 13:8. He is about to make his point that love will last eternally but knowledge will not. What does that mean to me? If I have all of knowledge but do not practice love, I am nothing 1 Cor 13:2.

Finally, “love never fails” 1 Cor 13:8. I really like those odds! But, how can something never fail? The answer comes from the First Letter of John: “God is love” (1 John 4:8,16). “God is love and whoever loves remains in God and God in him” (1 John 4:16).

Let’s summarize: The only way someone will see us transfigured – as disciples of Christ, is by our love for one another. Paul has given some examples of what this love looks like. (For more of his explanation of love, consider studying all of 1 Cor 13). And how can we love like this? By allowing the God who lives in us to live through us.

As always, I suggest you take all of this to God and get His deeper perspective on how His love is showing in your life to the point that people can see and experience it in you. Then, when you hear the Transfiguration story proclaimed at Sunday Mass on March 17th, remember this is not just another miracle story. Instead, experience this gospel story as Jesus calling you to be his disciple; a disciple who will be transfigured and known as his disciple by your love for every human being on the face of the earth. Once we exhibit God’s love through us, we look different. That is the reality they will experience in us because they experience God’s love through us. How awesome is that miracle? •

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