Sunday, August 5, 2007

Feast Of The Transfiguration

Transfiguration - Lorenzo Lotto, 1510-12

Luke 9:28-36

Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings,* one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah’—not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen;* listen to him!’ When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.

From Fr. John Dear's sermon on the Feast of the Transfiguration, August 5, 2005.

Tomorrow, we commemorate two events, one a great holy event, the other an evil, demonic event. On the one hand, we celebrate the feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus, when he was revealed as the face of the God of peace, as he exploded with the spiritual power of inner nonviolence and unconditional love into the light of the world, the fullness of love and peace for the whole human race. So beautiful!

On the other hand, we remember that 60 years ago, our country dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and vaporized 140,000 people in a flash and did it again three days later in Nagasaki. Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker, called our bombing of Hiroshima, "the anti-transfiguration," and said in effect that we have rejected Jesus' loving nonviolence, and created our own demonic light, the blast of the bomb, the dark cloud, and instead of bringing light and peace to the human race, we are bringing death and destruction to all.

First, we have to recognize and name, that we live in the culture of the anti-transfiguration.

And this anti-transfiguration culture is trying to instruct us, the church, on sin and morality, telling us what is right and wrong, distracting us from the criminal, immoral, and sinful murder of 130,000 Iraqis in the last two years or the development of these weapons at Los Alamos. Unfortunately, many people in the church are being misled by the culture of the Bomb. So like Dorothy Day, we have to be clear about our predicament.

Second, I would say, because of this, because of our story, we are called to go forth into this culture to fulfill Jesus' mission of Transfiguration nonviolence.

I think that as his followers, our job is to carry on that mission of transfiguration nonviolence, to follow Jesus down the mountain, confront systemic injustice, and go with him to the cross with perfect nonviolent, forgiving, suffering love.

How do we do this? The voice from the cloud says first we have to listen to Jesus which means we have to take time every hear what Jesus is saying to us, and then go and do it.

And when we listen to Jesus, we hear a few simple commandments: Love one another; love your neighbor; forgive one another; be as compassionate as God; seek first God's reign and God's justice; do unto others as you would have them do unto you; put down the sword and Love your enemies." That is the mission for the rest of our lives.


O God, who on the holy mount revealed to chosen witnesses your well-beloved Son, wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistening: Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may by faith behold the King in his beauty; who with you, O Father, and you, O Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.


Psalm 99 or 99:5-9;
Exodus 34:29-35
2 Peter 1:13-21

I am not a pacifist. I am not courageous enough to be a true pacifist. I wish I were. Pacifism is not talking about hating war and linking to Fr. John's web site on my blog. Pacifism is active. It's "getting in the way" as the Christian Peacemaker teams do when they put themselves between the warring parties and risk being kidnapped, like the four team members in Iraq, with one of their number, Tom Fox, being killed.

It's Fr. John hammering on an F15 nuclear fighter bomber in an effort to "beat swords in plowshares," according to the biblical vision of the prophet Isaiah, and going to jail for civil disobedience and destroying property.

No, I am not in their company. God bless and keep them and all who strive for peace and justice.


Tim Chesterton said...

On the other hand, pacifism begins with a humble prayer that the Holy Spirit will give us strength to love our enemies, whoever they may be.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Tim, you're right. Peace begins within the hearts of each of us as God gives us the grace to love those we consider unlovable.

Diane said...

it is truly difficult to be a peacemaker, and a pacifist. Have you ever heard about Le Chambom, the Hugoenot(?) community in France that resisted the Holocaust? they were pacifict. Pastor Andre Trocme. There's a movie Weapons of the Spirit, and a book (can't remember title) about it.

And, I've been to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Diane, I read the book about the courageous people in Le Chambon and their brave pastor, who stood up to the Nazis and protected those in the Jewish community. I can't think of the name of it now, either. Perhaps it was Le Chambon.

I did not know until yesterday that the feast day of the Transfiguration coincided with the anniversary of of the bomb on Hiroshima.

Muthah+ said...

Mimi, I think that there all kinds of pacifism. I am not an activist in the sense of standing in the way of tanks, etc, but I do try to resist violence. That is pacifism. Ove the past 3 years while I have been not permitted to work in my diocese, I have learned how to deal with my anger that was pretty violent when my bishop forbad me to work. But I have also worked to deal with the unfairness of his edicts and the way he treated others in my same situation.

It is the work of us all to give peace a chance to live in our hearts and souls. It is not easy when you know that there is so much injustice. But it is the willingness to keep saying that something is not right, not justice no matter the cost that makes makes the possibility for peace.

Pacifism is not merely the working for the absence of war, it is working for the injustice that leads to war.

I believe that what Integrity has done in the face of the extreme right-wing's onslaught has been remarkable. It has continued to speak for justice for the LGBTQ community while nevering asking that those exclusionists to leave.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Muthah+, I did not mean to diminish the work of anyone or any groups which promote peace and justice. Not at all.

It's that I have great admiration for those who put their very lives on the line. I'd like to be able to do that, but I must accept that perhaps, that is not my call.

I suppose one could say that I have dreams (delusions?) of doing heroic deeds, and those dreams are not likely to be fulfilled. I should have been born male in the days of knights and chivalry, huh?

People like Fr. John and those who work with him and the Christian Peacemakers are very close to my heart.

Nicholodeon said...

G Mere you never cease to amaze.

I thought you all had dropped the Feast of the Transfiguration...??

Grandmère Mimi said...

Nicholodeon, if we dropped it, no one told me, and it's still in the Lectionary.

Ormonde Plater said...

August 6 is also the date in 258 when the bishop of Rome, Sixtus II, and six of his deacons were beheaded because they refused to worship the pagan gods. For them it was transfiguration.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Ormonde, thanks for the history lesson. It's well worth noting.

For them it was transfiguration.

Indeed, it was.

That's a lovely Transfiguration icon you have on your site.

Caminante said...

The book of which you speak is Philip Hallie's Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed: The Story of the Village of Le Chambon and How Goodness Happened There (NY: Harper and Row, 1979).

Grandmère Mimi said...

Caminante, that's it. Thanks. It's a beautiful story.

Diane said...

yes, that's the book. I read it back in the 80's. Really affected me. They say that Albert Camus wrote The Plague while staying in or around that area of France during World War II. Not sure if it's true.

Serena said...

Thank you for this GM ... and for all the great comments you all! Like you, GM, "I have great admiration for those who put their very lives on the line. I'd like to be able to do that, but I must accept that perhaps, that is not my call."

Grandmère Mimi said...

Serena, we do what we can do. Perhaps it's enough, perhaps not. God knows.

Thanks for the kind words.

Ann said...

Thanks for this - here is my current favorite Transifiguration depiction.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Ann, I like that one, too. It's lovely.

Ed said...

I'm a day late commenting, but this was a wonderful and inspiring post which really helped me formulate what I wanted to say. The Dorothy Day quote is spot on, in my opinion. Thanks and blessings.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Ed, thanks.

Here's a link to Ed's exquisite post.