July 29, 2005

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Family life can be transfigured before our eyes

Jesus was walking with a small group of his disciples when he came upon a larger group of them.

These disciples had attempted to cast a demon out of a young man but had failed. Jesus expressed his frustration at the situation: “O faithless and perverse generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you?” (Mt 17:17) then did the work himself.

This was but one example of the Gospel writers portraying the disciples as slow-witted. They had been this way from the time they became Jesus’ followers, and they would continue to be so even after he rose from the dead.

Yet in between these frequent moments of frustration, the disciples were able to glimpse the glory that Jesus had from the Father from all eternity.

In fact, this happened for Peter, James and John just before the incident described above. When they descended from the mountain with Jesus, after he had been transfigured before their eyes, they came upon the other disciples who were failing in their attempt to do their master’s work.

They saw him shining in his heavenly glory, with Moses and Elijah at his side. They heard a voice from heaven proclaim, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased; listen to him” (Mt 17:5).

Even then, the trio of disciples did not totally understand what was happening before them. But I suspect they knew that they had received from this a divine confirmation that the man with whom they had walked the roads of Galilee and Judea was somehow much greater than the teacher, prophet and wonderworker that they may in the past have thought he was.

This event is so important in the life of the Church that it has its own feast day, the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, which we will celebrate next week on Aug. 6.

But there is something in this feast that families can gain for their lives here and now, something that I believe will help in their journey to the heavenly court.

Marriage is a sacrament, a living sign of God’s grace, his very life. A prime fruit of marriage is the gift of new life.

The life of parents and children in the home is thus charged with the glory of God, even if it is often hidden in the shadows of our mundane, day-to-day existence.

But if we are open to the unique blessings that God offers us each day, from time to time we just might see those shadows dispersed and experience the brightness of God shining in our homes.

This might happen when we put our own desires aside and look first to the needs of others. It can occur when we see the telltale signs that our children are growing in the life of faith.

These things often happen in the natural course of our everyday lives. They happen and we don’t even notice God’s glory shining through them.

God wants to make the life of our homes a great mystery. It will always consist of ordinary things repeated day after day. There will even be more than our fair share of times when we fail in our attempts to cast the demons of unruly behavior out of our kids (and ourselves).

But God is offering us the grace to have our ordinary days transfigured before our eyes more often than we probably expect.

Simply be open to the possibility as Peter, James and John were when they climbed up the mountain with Jesus. When they started out, they probably had no idea what was to come. When we wake up each day, who knows what glories will be revealed in our midst? †


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