Love’s Labor Transfigured
Author: Father James Swanson, LC | Source: Catholic.Net
Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother John, and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, "Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud came a voice, "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him." Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them.
As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So, they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in your wondrous shining glory, although this is hidden from my eyes. I hope in the peace and everlasting joy of the world to come, for this world is a valley of tears. I love you, even though I am not always able to discern the love in your intentions when you permit me to suffer. You are my God and my all.
Petition: Lord, detach my heart from the world, and allow me to live for love of you.
1. The Great Exodus: Jesus was conversing with Moses and Elijah about his exodus: the liberation of mankind from the slavery to sin. He was not speaking about the miracles he would perform, the comforts or beauty of this world, or the ambitions he might hold. He was not concerned with the opportunities he might have to use his talents, to achieve great things, to win esteem from others, to make a name for himself, or to rest and relax. Jesus was not speaking about any of these things. His only desire was his exodus – his suffering and death and departure from this world to glorify his Father, fulfilling his will by saving mankind.
2. The Promised Land: Our hearts can love and be attached to many things: ambitions, desires, hopes, esteem, comfort, getting things done, using our talents, self-fulfillment. Our Lord chose to subordinate all these possibilities to the love of his Father. This is what it means to follow Christ and be “detached” from the world: to be ready to give up any of these goods for love of Christ, should he require us to do so. We must be so in love with Christ that we esteem him more than all these other loves. This is the true Promised Land and true liberation from the slavery of egoism. The fruits of dying to self in this way are joy, peace, love and eternal life.
3. Rising from a Seed: “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat” (John 12:24). All our loves must be purified, dying like seeds in the ground, because all of our loves have a strong element of self-centeredness embedded in them. It is this self-centeredness that must be uprooted and die. If we analyze what we love, we will see that this is true. A wife who loves her husband may experience a self-centered aspect of her love that causes her to seek to control him. A father who loves his son might punish him out of his anger instead of for the son’s greater good. The self-centered element of our love impoverishes and tarnishes it, causing us, in reality, to love much less than we are capable of loving.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, free my heart from every selfish aspect of my love. Help me make that generous step of “dying to self” in this way. Help me to understand that this will always lead to true freedom and joy in my heart and to a greater capacity of true self-giving.
Resolution: I will make a generous decision to overcome some area of selfishness in a relationship today.