Pastoral Thought

3-17-19 

The Transfiguration. Glory shone on Jesus’ face—so intense a light that the disciples fell down in fear—today’s gospel tell us. But what is “glory”? We use the word so often that it becomes trivialized. Often it refers to athletic or military victory, usually of a bygone era. It gets identified with medals and championship trophies. It is a derivative thing, only partly real, a sentiment in the minds of people.

            But today’s glory on the face of Jesus points toward his “Exodus” in Jerusalem, his journey of passing over from this world to the Father. It includes the suffering, the cross and the resurrection. Later when Jesus says “the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified”, he then adds “that the grain of wheat must fall into the earth and die, in order to bring forth much fruit.” “Glory” here refers to gritty reality and the passing on of life. Can we ever see this glory on a person’s face?

            I don’t expect to see it very often—it is a manifestation of God’s presence. It will always be connected with triumph, but through suffering and death, freely chosen in love that leads to victory and resurrection.

            I have seen photos of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, martyred 38 years ago this coming Sunday. And photos of Father Stanley Rother, martyred 36 years ago in Guatemala. Both lived prophetic lives in a time of evil by high government authorities. I knew Sister Rosa Banuelos of the Carmelite sisters who died last month in Washington DC. She had spent 23 years in Sussex County Delaware helping expectant mothers among Guatemalan immigrant...thousands of children. Her gentleness was her strength.

            I see a glory in their faces. Not smiling but looking directly at life and at God. As if they saw the eternal fulfillment and joy waiting behind the visible world appearances of suffering and fear.

Father John Hynes