||This column is the bishop’s communication with the faithful of the Diocese of Madison. Any wider circulation reaches beyond the intention of the bishop.
How good it is for us to be here!
I’m hopeful that this sentiment was experienced at your own parishes this past Transfiguration Sunday.
I said it wholeheartedly as I offered the Mass and indeed, we should pray for the faith to proclaim, each and every blessed day, and especially when we stand at the foot of the altar, awaiting the Risen Lord, “How good it is for us to be here!”
What the Transfiguration is all about
The opening prayer of this past Sunday’s Mass tells us what the Transfiguration is all about. It says:
“O God, who have commanded us to listen to your beloved Son, be pleased, we pray, to nourish us inwardly by your word, that, with spiritual sight made pure, we may rejoice to behold your glory.”
The Transfiguration is all about our gaining that spiritual sight, made pure, so that we may rejoice to behold the Glory of Christ.
It’s about seeing with pure, spiritual sight the Glory of Christ -- Christ in the Transfiguration, which is, of course an anticipation of the Risen Christ.
This is really the core of our whole faith -- to experience Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, in a way that changes our lives.
Pure, spiritual sight. Christ is our light, like the sun. If we are in the darkness, we can’t see anything. Once in a while, we might get a glimpse from reflected light, but most everything is obscured or disfigured.
We need the sun so that the rest of the beauty of creation can disclose itself.
We need the sun.
And in the spiritual realm, we need the Son, the radiant Son, risen from the dead, in order to have pure, spiritual sight.
That pure, spiritual sight of the glory of Christ is the gateway to seeing the truth about everything else.
For, as St. Thomas Aquinas has pointed out, sin darkens the intellect.
Insofar as we have our gaze turned from the Risen Christ, we fail to see things as they are.
Everything in our lives is put out of order.
Eyes fixed on the Son
Now, in this life our sight will never be perfect, but it is our prayer that with our eyes fixed on the Son, our spiritual sight may be made pure, so that we may behold His Glory on the last day.
In the meantime, in the created realm, all that we will see, while somewhat disfigured, will be more clear in the Light of Christ.
And sometimes we worry about seeing the truth of everything else, before we worry about the pure sight that enables us to see Christ, our Light, Christ in His glory.
When Christ is completely out of focus, we cannot expect anything else that we would like to see to be in focus!
We’re seeing this in spades in the world -- what is “fake news” and what isn’t?
Who is telling the truth? (What is truth???)
Where is the evidence?
A lot of people are very concerned about the “fake news” and who is saying what, and worried about that.
On one level, these things do matter in the realm of our worldly concerns, but for some people the priority is skewed.
For some, politics is far more important than faith. Well, without that pure, spiritual sight of Jesus Christ, our Light, our Transfigured Lord, our Risen Lord, there is no hope for us ultimately to see the truth of anything else.
That’s why the culture is so confused and getting even more confused.
Without the true Light of the World, we will only ever see shadows and muted forms.
And that’s where we are. Around and around in circles.
Every time the television comes on, every time the news comes on, oh how confused it all is!
Guided by the light of Christ
How will we ever unravel it?
We only will under the light of the Risen Christ.
And those of us who have heard, and who take God at His word, know that the first thing we should do every day is not to seek out the best political insight of the moment, but rather, to seek out the face of Christ, the true Light, under Whose glory everything else will indeed be revealed, and revealed completely, and revealed as it truly is.
So for our part this Lent, let’s keep our priorities fixed first upon looking to the face of Jesus Christ, transfigured, glorified, and Risen.
If that is not the starting point for this pure, spiritual sight that sees the truth, then seeing the truth is impossible.
Let us put aside that sin which darkens our intellect and strive to live in the light. And let us invite others to look with us to the Light, to the One Who will set all things in order.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Praised be Jesus Christ!