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Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord

August 6, 2019


The surprising revelation of the Lord Jesus is that he is God.

Jesus Christ is a living, divine person who has accepted a human nature and lived a real human life, and this revelation is not just a matter of an idea or a feeling, but is a densely textured fact of history. In Jesus Christ, God enters the events and circumstances of our lives by becoming a man, and he does so that humanity might share in the life of God.

Today is the solemnity of the Transfiguration. This great day celebrates the privileged moment when three of Christ’s disciples glimpsed Christ’s divine glory. Peter, James, and John saw Christ for who he really and truly is—not just a prophet, or a philosopher, or a social activist, or one of many important historical figures, but God!

The reality of all this is overwhelming, and as such we might be tempted to make it all less that what it is, to dull its impact. Some would soften the blow in attempts to rationalize a differentiation between a “Jesus of history” and a “Christ of Faith,” making the man the reality and the God a symbol; but attempts to do this inevitably introduce us to a simulation of Jesus Christ rather than the real person.

In trying to make Christ less than who he reveals himself to be, it is Christ himself that we lose, and in losing Christ, we lose the gifts he wants us to enjoy.

Faith in Jesus Christ engenders a unique, particular way of life, and through this way of life, Christ acts to change us and to change the world.

For this reason, what we believe about the Lord Jesus matters. The proclamation that Jesus Christ is God is not just a dogmatic statement or a religious proposition. The Church is not playing games with language, but identifying what the revelation of Jesus Christ really and truly is. The Church knows who the Lord Jesus is—not because of a scholarly consensus or a popular vote, but because she bears the legacy of the testimony of the Apostles, who knew Christ personally and learned from him who he is and what he asked us to do.

If you do not know who the Lord Jesus is, how will you know what it is that he wants you to do?  The way of life engendered by Jesus Christ necessitates a personal encounter with him in his Church.

God became human in Christ so that humanity could share in the life of God. This is the great mystery of the Transfiguration unveiled. This is what the Gospel is all about.

The surprising revelation of Jesus Christ, who is God, is what the Church celebrates today.