Sunday, February 24, 2013

Pope Benedict's Legacy and the Transfiguration


Jesus took Peter, James, and John to Mount Tabor and while he was praying, he was transfigured before them. What took place was the revelation by Jesus of his glory as God’s only begotten Son: his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzlingly white. “On the transfigured face of Jesus a ray of light which he held within shines forth. This same light was to shine on Christ’s face on the day of the Resurrection. In this sense, the Transfiguration is a foretaste of the Paschal Mystery.” (Benedict XVI, 6 August 2006.) This glory of the Lord was revealed in prayer. “The Transfiguration is a prayer event” (17 February 2008.)

I find it significant that of the three disciples who were with Jesus that day, it would be Peter who would point out the beauty of what they saw. It was Peter who would say to Jesus: “Master, it is good that we are here.” It was Peter who would express the desire to linger on in that wonderful place by volunteering to build 3 tents, one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. I find these significant because this is precisely the legacy which the Holy Father Benedict XVI is leaving us. This Pope is one who constantly invited us to seek the face of the Lord. Benedict constantly tells us that seeking the face of the Lord, desiring to know him is our daily task: “The desire to know God truly, that is, to see the face of God, is in every man, even atheists. And we perhaps unwittingly have this desire to see simply who He is, what He is, who He is for us. But this desire is realized by following Christ, so we see his back and finally also see God as a friend, his face in the face of Christ. The important thing is that we follow Christ not only when we are in need and when we find space for it in our daily affairs, but with our lives as such. The whole of life should be directed towards encountering Him, towards loving Him…” (16 January 2013)

At the very heart of the ministry of Benedict as successor of Peter is his concern that the liturgy be celebrated in the proper way. To him, “the true celebration of the Sacred Liturgy is the center of any renewal of the Church.” “The Church stands or falls with the Liturgy.” “His profound concern is that the Church worships Almighty God correctly, and thereby be fully connected to the indispensible source which sustains and empowers Christian life, witness and mission. If the liturgy is impoverished or off-track our ability to live the Catholic faith and to evangelize suffers.” (A. Reid) “At the heart of his reform is Pope Benedict’s conviction that Catholic liturgy ‘is not about us, but about God’.” (Ibid.) Thus, the liturgy, as also the entire Christian life, must be a procession towards the Lord. It must constantly seek the face of God. The glory of Christ which was revealed at both the Transfiguration and the Paschal Mystery, is revealed to us in the Sacred Liturgy. In the Liturgy, Christ shows us the radiance of his face. And Benedict, like Peter, constantly reminds us: “It is good to be here.”

By doing so, Benedict encouraged us to look beyond this world and to look towards heaven. Our concerns should be higher than our stomachs. Our minds must not be occupied only with earthly things. “Our citizenship is in heaven.” Our minds must be elevated towards sublime things. Our hearts must seek Jesus who inspires and perfects our faith. Our eyes must constantly seek the beauty of Christ’s face. Benedict would always say: “Conversi ad Dominum” – let us turn towards the Lord. Thank you, Holy Father, for this wonderful legacy!

Jesus, I trust in you! O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

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