Deacon Stu Dobson’s Reflection
August 6, 2021
18th Friday in Ordinary time. The Transfiguration.
Dn 7:9-10, 13-14; Ps 97:1-2,5-6,9; 2 Pt 1:16-19; Mk 9:2-10
Whenever I hear the Gospel reading from today, my mind always goes back to picturing the painting above the altar at St James Belvidere. It is a beautiful rendition of Christ’s Transfiguration. Every time I enter the church, I see that painting and it reminds me of Christ’s divinity. Just seeing that picture brings a smile to my face.
At Jesus’s Transfiguration, the three disciples present, Peter, James and John, were pretty confused about what was going on. At this point they still did not understand all that Jesus was about to go through. Peter, confused by what he was seeing, wants to build a tent for Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. Suddenly a voice cries out, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; Listen to Him,” and the disciples cowered in fear. But Jesus reassures them and tells them to rise, and do not be afraid.
As we look at our own lives, it is not hard to imagine what they were feeling. The past year or two, has been filled with much adversity and strife. With all the information out there, we can sometimes wonder who to listen to, where to put our trust, and how we are ever going to make it through the day. In the painting, it shows all three disciples hiding themselves from Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. Peter and John are cowering, laying down and covering their faces. James, on the other hand, is not only looking away, but if you follow his eyes, he is looking right toward the tabernacle. It is not by accident that the painter shows him this way, it is to show that the answer to our troubles, concerns and anxieties is right here, in the tabernacle, it is Jesus, alive and present for us.
In the midst of all of the pain and strife going on in our lives, who do we turn to? A better question would be, who should we turn to? It can be extremely difficult to have faith when we are under extreme pressure, fear and are doubting. But here we have St James pointing the way. Pointing the way to where our hearts should be, Jesus. By receiving the Sacraments of Reconciliation, and the Eucharist, we have that glorious opportunity to receive grace from God. The grace to have peace and believe, even when we have fear and doubt.
There are two lines that stand out to me in the other readings today, the first is from the Psalm, “You, O Lord, are the most high over all the earth.” We need to keep in mind who is really in control. It is not the government, and surely not ourselves, it is God. As long as we keep that focus, nothing else matters.
The second phrase is from the book of Daniel, the last line, “his kingship shall not pass away.” Too often we get stuck in the present, over worrying about what is happening right here and now. While it is important to be concerned about today, remember today, too, will pass. But Jesus’ kingship is forever. It never ends. Focus in on God’s everlasting kingdom and make sure that what we are doing is helping us prepare for our time with Him in His kingdom. So, no matter what happens to us in our lives, God will be there to take care of us and protect us.
In the arch above the altar at St James in Belvidere, God’s words during Jesus’ Transfiguration are written, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him.” It not only completes the scene from the painting, it completes the message given to us today. If I am truly trusting and being a servant to God, I need to listen to my Master. God says very clearly who we are to listen to, it is His Son, Jesus.
As we continue to gaze at that painting, follow St James’ eyes towards the tabernacle, towards Jesus, receive him as often as you can through the Eucharist. That is where we will find the peace in our lives that we are desperately looking for. This past year has been tough. We have all suffered in our own ways. Some of us have lost employment, others have lost loved ones, and some have been isolated by being forced to shelter at home. But there is hope, there is peace, there is the grace that we get from God when we receive Him. The grace to have faith and believe.
Do not fret, do not worry, keep your faith, trust in God, and Listen to Jesus.