Sunday, August 5, 2007
Feast Of The Transfiguration
Transfiguration - Lorenzo Lotto, 1510-12
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 day...to 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;
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.