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The Glory of Human Flesh

Today's Mass places before us the transfigured Lord and the model toward Whom we must tend, and our own transfiguration as the goal we must attain.

A reflection from Father Tudgay for the Second Sunday of Lent.

The story of the Transfiguration of Christ is quite known to us. Peter, James, and John accompany Christ up to Mount Tabor where, to their unfathomable surprise, Jesus reveals himself to them. He’s revealed a lot about himself to them until this point. The miracles, the teachings, the preaching, the turning-on-ear of the “leaven” of the Pharisees. The disciples who accompany Christ know a lot about him. But this knowledge that they have is merely the piecing together of bits and pieces of the conclusions about the man, Christ, and his activity. Until this point their understanding of the Christ is merely phenomenal. You and I could’ve figured out the same. The event on Mount Tabor established Christ’s identity from a completely different orientation. On Tabor, Jesus is revealed not so much by what he does, but by who God, the Father says he is! 


On Tabor, the theological mystery that is revealed – a theophany – reveals the identity of God, the Father, contextualizing the mission of God, the Son. How? In the human flesh that Christ assumes, the time-space continuum in which all of creation exists is temporarily suspended and Peter, James, and John see Jesus as his Father sees him. They get a glimpse of heaven. In fact, Peter, James, and John see Jesus as the Father has always seen him. But now, because of the Incarnation, human flesh will never, ever be exempted from the trinitarian glory of heaven. This event not only reveals Christ’s identity as the Father sees him to Peter, James, and John, but also frames how the Church’s theology of the Eucharist will unfold and develop. 


In short, there’s a lot going on in this Gospel passage. The discipline of this season, which includes fasting, prayer, and sharing of resources, can run the risk of leading us to think that the flesh that we embody is a stumbling block to holiness. It certainly can be. However, this Gospel passage shows us that the flesh that Christ assumes is the same flesh that is part of how God created us. It is through Christ’s human flesh that we are redeemed. Not all moments in our faith journey are “Mount Tabor” moments. After all, Jesus ordered Peter, James, and John to go back down the hill to accompany him through his own paschal moment. Their memory of the Mount Tabor moment and their glimpse of Christ’s identity will carry them through the horrific moments on Golgotha. And these two extremes illustrate the radical love that Jesus Christ has for us. The same glorious gaze of the Father upon Jesus – in the flesh – is the vary same gaze that the Father casts upon us – in our flesh

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