August 6: A Gateway of Hope (Transfiguration A)

“Lord, it is good that we are here.” Matthew 17-1-9.

In the gospel, we come to this scene on a mountaintop and witness to a luminous Jesus in the company of Moses and Elijah.

Of course, this narrative so affected the lives of Peter, James, and John, that once they left the mountain, their lives had changed. In professional mountain climbing, I’ve been told coming down a high mountain is as challenging and perilous as the assent, and requires teamwork and the efforts of experienced guides.

Now they saw Jesus in a new light. We, too, can see others differently and even stand in awe of figures such as athletes, winners of Olympic “gold medal,” or heroes, such as recipients of the “Congressional Medal of Honor’ for outstanding valor.

But if we look carefully enough into the everyday lives of people, like today’s gospel, a dramatic new light could have a significant and lasting effect on us.

Recently, I was in a conversation with a friend of mine who happened to mention that a friend  — had just undergone a successful heart transplant.

In this case, this middle-aged person was given the heart donation of an eighteen-year-old, so restoring the older person to a full and vigorous life – something of a rebirth or miracle.

More important, her family and friends now see this person in the glow of a different and even distinctive light — a new “lease on life” and, most of all, a “grateful heart.”

In a way, these transformative experiences tell us of something about how the lives of others might shed a light of hope even when our days may appear to us as cloudy or dark.

Such is the experience of the apostles as they too witness Jesus at his transfiguration, and later they experience the Lord’s death and resurrection.

Today, as a parish community, we witness the baptism of Amelia Rae; and together with her parents Natalie and Alphonso and godparents, family, and friends, we see the promise of Christ’s light to guide her on the path of life.

All sacraments of the Church are transformative, life-changing signs that provide a distinctive light or grace in our lives. Jesus Christ is there for us, providing for us, and nourishing us.

In his public audience in Rome this past Wednesday, Pope Francis reminded those present — that baptism is “a gateway of hope.”

He stated: “What a grace it is when a Christian truly becomes a ‘Christopher,’ a bearer of Christ in the world…. If we were faithful to our baptism, we would spread the light of hope. Baptism is the beginning of faith, the promise of God that we would pass on to future generations, the very reasons for living.”

The Holy Father, as a Jesuit and former teacher, concluded his remarks by giving everyone at the audience — a homework assignment.

Namely, to remember the date of our own baptism, and said: “Which is the date of your rebirth, the date of light, touched by the light of Christ.”

San Carlos Cathedral, Monterey, CA.

Here is Pope Francis’s prayer intention for August 2017.




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