By Fr. Simione Volavola, MSC (St. John the Baptist Parish-Ottosville, PA)

Dear brothers and sisters,

“After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone.” (Luke 9:36)

This Sunday, we are given a glimpse of heaven, our destination, our home. With Peter, James and John, we are led up to the high mountain of transfiguration. We behold and experience another worldly reality piercing and penetrating our own very worldly reality.

God inserts Himself in our lowly human mode of existence. With Peter, James and John, and with Abram (GN 15:5-12, 17-18) in the first reading, we are terrified. His presence, His holiness, His might, His majesty is overwhelmingly terrifying for our weak, sinful, vulnerable and pitiable nature.

Yet God’s divine nature, while it is terrifying, it is not abusive, damning, or destructive of us. His nature is perfectly tender, protective, patient, kind, loving, peaceful, generous, forgiving and faithful to us. God’s nature is at once self-sufficient and completely self-emptying to us His creatures. This is the mystery of God that we are celebrating this Sunday. This is the mystery that is personified in no other person but Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is Son of God and being Son of God, He is completely immersed in the perfect oneness, fullness, perfection of God the Father. This oneness is dynamic, fully alive, fully a person, the Holy Spirit.

Yet His perfection, His oneness in the Trinity is not self-centered but self-emptying. His perfection transcends Himself, overflows, brims over and out of Himself. This self-emptying love gives birth to us and all of creation. This self-emptying love of the Holy Trinity is fruitful, gives birth, creates things, and recreates, creates things anew.

This is the nature of God’s being: He is fruitful. We are the fruits of His self-emptying love, just as a mother is fruitful by the emptying of her womb with a new creation, a child. This is the nature that the Son of God was tempted by Satan to deny. He was tempted to be selfish, to care only for Himself, satisfying His own hunger with no care for all His creatures who know not where to find real food, and real drink.

Satan tempted Him to be selfish in acquiring wealth, power and glory for His own self without care for all of His creatures who were made in His image and likeness and have lost the glory and beauty that their Creator intended for them from eternity.

Satan tempted Jesus to care only for His own salvation by jumping from the temple roof, and not to care for all of His creatures, His children who have fallen from heaven and are dashing their feet on the stones of hell.

In refusing to deny His own Godly nature as a terrifyingly tender God who cares for His fallen children with an eternally self-emptying love, Jesus reveals His true nature on the mountain and Golgotha.

The mountain of transfiguration reveals God’s terrifying power. Golgotha reveals the tenderness of that power emptying the womb of His Heart, His whole Being, in the death of His Son and the pouring of His Spirit on us who have lost our likeness to His beauty, His glory, His majesty, His tenderness.

We are that centurion who pierced His Heart with our own betrayal. He allows His Heart to be pierced and empties His whole Being on to our disfigured nature. In the end, like the centurion, we too are transfigured. Transfigured to Christ, our true nature, our true home.

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