In our Gospel reading for today, we hear the account in Mark’s Gospel of the Transfiguration of Jesus in the presence of the apostles Peter, James and John. These three get a glimpse of Jesus’ glorified self, and see the promise of what will happen after His Passion and death. In seeing Elijah and Moses, they are made aware of Jesus as the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. And in hearing the voice from the heavens say, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him,” they get an affirmation that not only is Jesus the Messiah, He is both divine and human. In other words, they get a glimpse of Jesus’ total self, as the Son of God, as the fulfillment of the Law, and as the One foretold by the prophets.
Our first reading is from the letter to the Hebrews, which has this profound definition of faith: “the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” Then the author proceeds to speak of those who lived out their faith in God, beginning with Abel, Enoch, and Noah.
It is in faith that St. Polycarp, whose feast day we celebrate today, went to his martyrdom in the early days of the Church. It is in faith that we can open ourselves to be transformed by God’s love in Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit. And it is in faith that we can reveal God’s compassion and love in Jesus Christ to others. To show compassion and mercy in these times of division and hostility definitely takes trust in “evidence of things not seen,” but by the grace of God, it is being done all over the world, and it can be done by us!
May we live out our faith in Jesus Christ as instruments of God’s love, and work together for the transfiguration of the world.
Fr. Phil Paxton, C.P., is the local superior at St. Paul of the Cross Passionist Community in Detroit, Michigan.