The Gospel according to Mark (Mark 9:2-10)
After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; then from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them. As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.
Opening Prayer: Dear Lord, I humbly ask you to come to my assistance and open my heart and my understanding to get closer to your mystery, to know you and praise you better.
Encountering Christ: It was not a miracle that Jesus Christ transfigured Himself on Mount Tabor before the Apostles. It was a miracle that He maintained His common, earthly appearance for the whole of His life. It was a miracle that His face was not glowing like the sun as He walked the hills and valleys of the Holy Land. Christ’s normality, His sustained suppression of His divine radiance, was a miracle of humility.
The Christian believes in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. We believe this because of the appearances of the risen Christ after His resurrection, because of His bodily Ascension into heaven, because the gospels specifically mention the empty tomb, and because of the events of todays feast.
The Transfiguration shows the splendor of truth. It is a peek into the life of heaven, where we see that Christ will not shed His human skin, but will bring His humanity to heaven and glorify it. This exaltation of flesh and blood is one reason why the Church has such immense respect for the human body.
Neither an excessively spiritual approach nor an excessively material understanding does the body justice. A balanced understanding of the relationship between the body and soul is a hallmark of traditional Christianity. When Christ reveals His glory, He doesn’t point a long, bony finger to a colorful rainbow on the horizon. He doesn’t puff His cheeks and blow a strong rush of wind on the Apostles’ faces. He doesn’t sit down and start playing soothing melodies on a harp. Christ shows the Apostles the truth by showing them Himself. He shows them His arms and legs and torso and face and hair. It’s a real body. Jesus gives us a target to aim for. He shows us that the destination IS Himself.
We desire heaven because Jesus is there. If He were not there, then heaven would not be heaven. He, not a place, is the true destination. A mystery is not something we can know nothing about, but something we can’t know everything about. A comprehensible God would not be God, but an entirely opaque God would also be too remote for us to care. Catholicism’s theology of the body has a beautiful equilibrium because our God is knowable and yet mysterious.
Food, drink, dancing, romance, music, and beauty are not sins. The body is good, and God took one Himself as proof of that. But while nature is the source of human operations, a person operates them. So the person prevails over the tools he uses. The body, then, must ultimately be a servant. We are enfleshed souls. In heaven, hopefully, we will be most truly ourselves, and have our ideal body. Every man and woman will be transfigured like Christ and radiate the glory of the Trinity in heaven, like a white sheet on the line radiates the sun shining behind it.
Closing Prayer: Gracious God, as your apostle and servant, I have no words. I just want to contemplate the mystery of God who took human flesh and to say: “It is good to be here with you.” Strengthen my faith and let me experience the sweetness of your presence.
Action: Lord, today by your grace I will make an effort to stop at a church to visit you in the tabernacle. If this is not possible, I will make a spiritual communion.