Boudreaux and Thibodeaux decided to go fishing one morning at the pond in back of Boudreaux’s house. It was dark and when they reached the pond they realized they wanted to cross to the other side. But they couldn’t walk around and had no boat or pirogue to cross in. Thibodeaux turned to Boudreaux and said, “Mais Boudreaux, how in the heck we gonna get across.” Boudreaux said, “No problem, I’m gonna shine this here flashlight across the water and you gonna walk on the beam of light all the way across.” Thibodeaux then says, “Mais, Boudreaux, you must think I’m stupid or something, cause just when I get halfway across you gonna turn off the light.”
Light travels at 186,282 miles per second. Put another way, the earth has a circumference of 24,901 miles, so a beam of light could travel around the earth 7.5 times in one second. Light comes in a wide spectrum of electromagnetic radiation, but we can only see a very small portion of that spectrum, which is called visible light. We can see this visible light and discern the various colors when the electromagnetic radiation strikes the retina in our eyes and initiates a particular chemical reaction in the cone cells of the retina. Therefore, the physical act of seeing is the means by which our brains receive information about the world around us.
Some of that information has no real effect on our lives, it’s peripheral – visible, but not necessary. Other parts of that information help us to navigate – keeps us from running into the wall. Other parts teach about the nature of things. Whatever the case, what we see is still only input, information. However, when our minds begin to interpret the information, we may have a response to what we are seeing. Seeing a red light tells you stop – that’s not necessarily true for everyone in Enid – but it is only information. That changes though when we are in a hurry, because then that visual information is interpreted in our minds and can create an emotion of impatience or anxiety. Seeing a beautiful child can warm the heart, seeing a beautiful child, drowned and washed up on a beach in Europe because of an immigration crisis, can move entire nations in to action. Through visible light there is sending and receiving of information and the interpretation of some of that information, can generate a response, even an emotional response.
Today, we read about Moses going up on the mountain and receiving the Ten Commandments. When he came back down the people saw him and took in the information – “the skin of his face was shining” – but the people had an emotional reaction to this – “they were afraid to come near him.” Why? Moses has been up on the mountain for forty days, but just prior to leaving, the Lord gave him instructions, then Moses said to the Lord, “Show me your glory, I pray.” Moses wanted to see God, but the Lord explained to Moses that no one can see God and live, though he would show Moses his back as he passed by and he would declare his name as he did. Moses climbed Mt. Sinai and there the glory of the Lord appeared to him and declared His name to Moses, saying:
“The Lord, the Lord,
a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger,
and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,
keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation,
forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin,
yet by no means clearing the guilty,
but visiting the iniquity of the parents
upon the children
and the children’s children,
to the third and the fourth generation.”
When Moses came down the mountain his face reflected, in visible light, the glory of the Lord that he had witnessed. The people could see this glory and it frightened them.
Today, we also read of the Transfiguration. James, John, and Peter had gone up on another mountain with the Lord. When it was late and the disciples were near sleep, Jesus was seen praying and while he was “the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white.”
Whereas the light that radiated from Moses was a reflection of God’s glory, the visible light that was seen surrounding Jesus was not coming from above, but Jesus himself was radiating that light. He was radiating the glory of the Lord that Moses had seen. Why? Because he is the Lord. He is “God from God, Light from light, true God from true God.”
The difference between Moses and the disciples, both having been radiated with the glory of God, is that where Moses reflected that glory, the disciples became that glory. Moses and the Law gave information about who God is – just like visible light – gives information; however, Jesus was the interpretation of that light, he was that Light, and through him we have been re-interpreted, we have been transformed, just as he was transformed. On the night before he was crucified, Jesus prayed, “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one.” We have been transformed so that we may receive the glory of God and become one with each other and one with God. Referring back to Moses, the Apostle Paul says it like this, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.” Through Jesus, you have been and are being transformed into the glory of God.
St. Irenaeus stated, “The glory of God is a living man; and the life of man consists in beholding God.” The glory of God is a person who has seen God, who has beheld and beholds the Living God and is transformed. But it doesn’t end there because: “No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.” God does not share his glory with us so that we may hide away in a closet. As Jesus prayed, “… may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” The Lord shares his glory so that we will continue to reveal that glory to the world.
When we come into this sanctuary, it is the practice of many when crossing the aisle or before taking a seat in the pew, to face the altar and to bow. I think sometimes we do it simply out of habit, but in truth, we bow because of that little “closet” up there underneath the sanctuary lamp. That little closet is the Tabernacle. It is the place where we reserve the consecrated bread and wine, the Blessed Sacrament. It is the Tabernacle of God and the lamp is a sign of His real presence and his glory. Therefore, when we come before it, we bow, we reverence Our Lord, acknowledging his presence.
Like that Tabernacle, you also hold within you the real presence and glory of our God. As that lamp shines forth signifying that presence, you also are to shine, to radiate his glory, and the sanctuary where you are to make that presence known is the world. From the very early Church Fathers it was not unusual to hear the phrase Christianus alter Christus – the Christian is another Christ. That does not mean we are Christ or that we have the power to save, but it does mean that we are created in his image and filled with his glory, therefore we are to strive to be like him and do those things that he did, which was to be like his Father and to reveal the Father’s glory to the world.
St. Josemaría Escrivá writes, “We are children of God. —Bearers of the only flame that can light up the paths of the earth for souls, of the only brightness which can never be darkened, dimmed or overshadowed. The Lord uses us as torches, to make that light shine out… It depends on us that many should not remain in darkness, but walk instead along paths that lead to eternal life.”
Unlike Thibodeaux, we don’t have to worry about the Lord turning his light off. Therefore, put on the dazzling white clothes of the Transfiguration of Our Lord and show the light of the glory of the Lord, the glory that is in you, into the world.
Let us pray:
Father in heaven,
whose Son Jesus Christ was wonderfully transfigured
before chosen witnesses upon the holy mountain,
and spoke of the exodus he would accomplish at Jerusalem:
give us strength so to hear his voice and bear our cross
that in the world to come we may see him as he is;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.