Evil Disfigures Us; God Transfigures Us

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Today we have Jesus taking Peter, James and John up to the top of Mt. Tabor to experience something wonderful.

To help us understand this event, I ask you to picture an old oil lamp covered with layers of dust and dirt. Not at all appealing to the eye. Then someone cleans off the layers of dirt, polishes it until it begins to sparkle, and then lights it. Suddenly the lamp is transformed, glowing brightly, and radiating light and beauty to every corner of the room. Prior to this it was disfigured, now it is transfigured. Yet it is the same lamp.

When Jesus went about his mission, his divinity was cloaked by his humanity. But on Mt. Tabor God’s light burst forth from the body of Jesus, and he was transfigured. Peter, James and John got a glimpse of his divinity. They were overcome with the beauty and brilliance of it.

There are two potentialities within each of us: the potential for good and the potential to do evil. We are capable of such things as hatred, prejudice, bitterness, cruelty, greed, envy, lust, and so on. These are ugly things that bring out the worst in us and corrupt the heart. Evil disfigures us.

Then there is our potential to do good. We are capable of such things as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, mercy, compassion, and so on. They bring out the best in us and purify the heart. Goodness transfigures us.

We are transfigured by what we love, what excites us, what moves us, what motivates our spirit, what causes us to be awake and alive! In other words, what shows us at our brightest and best.

At times all of us can feel down, prey to our feelings. But then suddenly something nice happens to us. A friend calls, we get a letter with good news, and suddenly everything is changed. In reality, nothing has changed. It is just that a spark of joy or hope or love has been kindled in our heart, and we see ourselves in a new and better light.

We are all created in the image and likeness of God, carrying the splendor of divinity within us. However, sin tarnishes that image and so disfigures us, but virtue causes that image to shine and so transfigures us.

Like Peter, James and John on Mt. Tabor, we too experience rare moments of light and joy. God gives us glimpses of the Promised Land towards which we are traveling. God allows us to taste on earth the joys of the world to come. In between, we are like Abraham in our first reading. The power of the Word calls us to walk by faith, not by sight.

- Fr. Dennis, March 8. 2020