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There are many remarkable aspects of the account of the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ (Luke 9:28-36) that will be explored in the  next several posts.

For starters,  Peter, James and John have an experience that is unprecedented in the Bible. They see dead people:

[28] Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. [29] And as he was praying, the appearance of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became dazzling white.  [30] And behold, two men talked with him, Moses and Eli’jah,  [31] who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem. [32] Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, and when they wakened they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. [33] And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Eli’jah” — not knowing what he said. [34] As he said this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. [35] And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” [36] And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silence and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.

Peter, John and James, the three disciples who are part of Jesus “inner circle”, awaken to see Jesus conversing with Moses and Elijah.

The appearance of Moses and Elijah is beautifully remarkable for a number of reasons:

  • Moses and Elijah have been “dead” for quite a while: Moses (about 1200-1600  years), Elijah (800 years).  How is it that they can appear?  Where have they been?  How do the disciples recognize that these are, indeed, Moses and Elijah?  The Bible does not say.
  • Their appearance is astounding testimony to the divinity of Jesus Christ:  Moses represents “the Law” (Moses was the giver of the Law in the Old Testament) and Elijah represents the greatest of the great Prophets in the Old Testament.  Both are summoned by Jesus; both show up.
  • These two are the only Old Testament figures to hear God’s voice; Moses (Exod 24:18; 1 Kings 19:8-18).  Now, they get to talk to Him face to face!
  • Now, Moses and Elijah are given the beautiful gift of seeing God face to face and as they converse with Jesus.
  • After a long wait, Moses and Elijah are able to witness the Divine Plan of Salvation History, in which they themselves have played key roles, is coming to fruition.

Jesus Christ is the center and summit of Salvation History; God coming to earth.

Sometimes, He brings people from dead with Him.

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In the the Temptation account from Luke’s Gospel (Luke 4:1-13) , Jesus offers a powerful lesson about tempting God:

[9] And he took him to Jerusalem, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here;  [10] for it is written, `He will give his angels charge of you, to guard you,’ [11] and `On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'” [12] And Jesus answered him, “It is said, `You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'”

This lesson from Christ is as relevant today as it was when Jesus first uttered these words.  Consider:

  • The devil is daring Jesus to jump off the pinnacle of the temple.
  • Though Jesus could very well rely on angels, or perhaps perform a miracle of levitation (He does Ascend to Heaven, after all), Jesus rebukes Satan, telling the devil “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.”
  • While we can’t know for sure, we might suppose that the Son of Man, being fully human, might have enjoyed the adrenaline rush of hopping off the pinnacle; but He does not.
  • Today, there is a whole culture that has built up around “XXtreme Sports”; thrill seekers of all kinds, seek to get the thrill of tempting death: sky diving, car racing, extreme skiing, bungee jumping; the list of silly ways to dare the devil goes on and on.
  • Many have an adrenaline addiction.  But worse: they have an addiction to daring the devil, and they just don’t know it.
  • Each man has been given a precious gift of life, a life that is not earned and is not theirs to throw away (Thou shall not kill – Exodus 20:13).  Those who recklessly dare the devil are only doing so because they are facing the very real potential of killing themselves.
  • While Jesus Himself teaches us to offer ourselves out of love in times of danger or threat to lay down our life for a brother (John 15:13), we are not to be reckless.  We are not to tempt God.

The foolish think of themselves as “dare devils”; but is Satan doing the tempting, whispering with evil breath in the ear of the would-be daredevil, “Throw yourself off the top of this building…you won’t be hurt.”  In response, Jesus says, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.”

Who are you going to believe, Satan or Jesus.  It’s your choice.

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In yesterday’s Gospel from the Mass (Matt 16:13-19), Jesus makes a profound statement about His Catholic Church:

[13] Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesare’a Philip’pi, he asked his disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” [14] And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Eli’jah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  [15] He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”  [16] Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” [17] And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.  [18] And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.  [19] I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

In a world that rejects God and celebrates the culture of death, Jesus’ prophetic words about His Catholic Church give great comfort:

  • We live in a time of great confusion; rebellious and arrogant people seek to deny the existence of God and attack His Catholic Church.
  • At every turn, and in every corner of the media, vicious attacks are launched against the Church; though some criticisms have validity due to the fact that the Catholic Church is a church of sinners who can often sin, the unbalanced attacks reflect the evil at work in the world.  For the Church’s enemies seek any reason to attack, and no reason to recognize the wonderful blessing that the Catholic Church has been to the world.
  • The powers of death are rampant in the world; abortion, attempts to desecrate marriage, a self-focused narcissistic culture, sexual promiscuity, etc.  All these ideas and acts lead to death.  And death hates life.  Darkness hates Light.  Those who love sin hate those who aspire to holiness.  Satan hates Christ.
  • Despite all the attacks and the broad sinking into the culture of death, for the past 2000 years, the Church has withstood every attack, every internal riff, every setback; the Church endures.  The Church is the one beacon of Light in a world obsessed with darkness and death.
  • As Christ discloses, “…the powers of death will not prevail against it.”

AS the Son of God, Jesus Christ can not make mistakes.  He has told us that the Church will endure.  Praise our Lord Jesus Christ.

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In yesterday’s Gospel from the Mass (Matt 16:13-19), Jesus establishes something remarkable:

[13] Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesare’a Philip’pi, he asked his disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” [14] And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Eli’jah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  [15] He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”  [16] Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” [17] And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.  [18] And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.  [19] I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

In this short passage is the birth of the Catholic Church of Jesus Christ:

  • Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, establishes Peter as His successor to lead the earthly portion of the Kingdom of Heaven.
  • For the past 2000 years, the Church has withstood every attack, every internal riff, every setback; the Church endures.
  • As Christ discloses, “…the powers of death will not prevail against it.”
  • Despite it’s unlikely beginnings, and unlikely first pope, Peter, the Church has now lasted for over 2000 years.
  • It has not only lasted, but continues to thrive: 1.2 billion people all themselves Catholic.
  • Never in history has such an institution existed, neither in duration or in membership.  The Catholic Church is simply unprecedented in human history.

The Catholic Church endures.  Jesus Christ, the Son of God, wills it to be so.  And it is and will be.

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In today’s Gospel from the Mass (Matt 16:13-19), Jesus initiates the greatest succession plan ever conceived: (more…)

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In today’s Gospel from the Mass (Matt 16:13-19), Jesus enacts the greatest transfer of power ever recorded in human history: (more…)

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There is something very interesting in the last line of Luke’s narrative of the Temptation of Jesus (Luke 4:1-13):

[13] And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.

This is a powerful statement that demands further reflection.  Consider:

  • Jesus has just thoroughly refuted each attack by Satan, by using Scripture.
  • After thrashing Satan, Jesus commands the devil to “Begone, Satan” (Matt 4:13).
  • And yet, in Luke 4;13 we read that Satan leaves, but waits for a more “opportune time.”
  • The devil is bruised, but not yet completely beaten.  He will continue to fight against God’s Kingdom (Luke 11:17-22) and will aggressively seek to tempt Jesus in Gethsemane (Luke 22:3, 39-53).
  • It is not until Jesus rises from the dead in triumph that Satan is completely beaten.

That being said, Satan continues to lurk in the shadows today, seeking to tempt men today.  Satan is relentless and vicious and will stop at nothing to seek to corrupt men.

Our only hope, which is a sure hope, is in the Triumph of Jesus Christ.   Give yourself to Him now, while you still may.

May the peace and love of Jesus Christ be with us all.