Dear friends. Out of all the religions of the world, none emphasise the dignity of the human person more than Christianity. With our Jewish brothers and sisters, we hold that we bear the image and likeness of our creator. If that claim wasn’t extraordinary enough, Christianity takes it a step further and says that every baptised person is also a beloved child of God the Father and so is given access to the very life of God by the Holy Spirit. Here we come to the heart of our faith and what makes it unique – because God became a human in Jesus Christ, we humans have become divine. This is the good news that we continually forget or fail to appreciate. Today, religion and faith are often reduced to helping us become good people. Or for the same reason, people stay away from Church because they feel they don’t need religion to make them good people. But being a Christian is not primarily about being good or nice, important as charity is. It is about knowing the extraordinary gift of God’s very life that we carry – most of the time without knowing it.
This year, the Feast of the Transfiguration falls on Sunday which brings the two related mysteries of Resurrection and Transfiguration together. On the top of Mount Tabor (See the photo below. We will visit there during our trip to the Holy Land in 2018, please God) , Peter, James and John were given a glimpse of the extraordinary light of God’s presence which shone from Jesus’ body. This was something that had remained hidden until now but would be seen again by them after Jesus’ resurrection. It was a moment when the veil was lifted and the fullness of his divinity shone like the sun through his humanity. It was also a moment that was both in time and outside of time. It certainly happened in time as Peter claims in the Second reading but it also stood outside time with Jesus conversing with Moses and Elijah about all that was to happen to him in Jerusalem.
So how does this mystery relate to us Christians today? The first thing to say is that the beautiful light that shone from Jesus at his Transfiguration is the same light of God’s presence that we have received at our baptism. Like on Mount Tabor, wherever God’s light shines, it makes things more beautiful. It makes us more beautiful in spirit and soul. When we were baptised, our baptismal candle was lit from the paschal candle and handed to our parents who were told: ‘Receive the light of Christ’. What this means is that we share in God’s light. No matter how dark things can become, there is a light that we hold within us that can never be extinguished. It is the light of hope and the light of love. It also means that this light gives us wisdom, leads the way on our journey of life and gives us a clarity about who we are and what we are about.
Secondly, like Jesus’ experience on Mount Tabor, his light that shines within, connects us to people and a place outside of time. The light of God’s grace draws us into the communion of saints and a mystical union with our brothers and sisters who have lived the Gospel before us and who are united with us still. The light of God’s grace we have received draws us forward and upwards to a more beautiful life that awaits us where we are being prepared to become full citizens of heaven, having already received our passports at baptism. Therefore, every moment of prayer, every Mass and every sacrament are moments that take place in time but reach beyond time and echo in eternity. They are moments when the divine life becomes expressed and increased in us as we move closer to the future glory that awaits us.
Christianity is not about what we do. It’s first about who we are and are called to be. The awesome truth is that we have become beloved sons and daughters of God and have received the light of his divine life. This is the light that shines within us 24/7, that illuminates and makes us more beautiful people. It is also the light of heaven that unites us to the communion of saints who glow with the same light of God. I conclude with the words of St Paul: ‘you were once in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light’ (Eph. 5:8).