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August 6 – Transfiguration… or… Disfiguration?

by | Aug 4, 2021 | Formation, Reflections, Systemic change | 1 comment

Two moments that changed the world forever.

For Catholic Christians, Aug. 6 is the feast of the Transfiguration of Christ on the mountain.The gospel narrative of Jesus’ beauty and glory stands in stark and awful contrast to the memory of the searing light that radiated nearly a quarter-million people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the center of Japanese Catholicism.

Did you ever notice the similarities in these very different events? I am amazed at how good and evil, on the surface, can appear so much alike.

The light of creation dazzled the disciples at Jesus’ transfiguration. The light of destruction blinded those present at the explosion of the atomic bomb. They were both amazing in what they signified.

Initially many celebrated the atomic age they thought would bring about the ending of violence. Yet we still live with the specter of nuclear holocaust. We are being consumed by flames dividing us.

The thunderous, roaring clap of the explosion echoes the thunderous voice of God that spoke from the clouds above the mountain. Peter, James, and John knew something wondrous happened. But it was only much later that they understood the transfiguring power of the Resurrection… Jesus’ and ours.

Transfiguration and Disfiguration! Two moments that changed the world.

The wisdom of a Grandfather

A grandfather once sat beside a crackling campfire with his grandchildren. He told them a story of a fight between two wolves. He described the two wolves as being polar opposites.

One wolf represented anger, jealousy, resentment, frustration, anxiousness, negativity, hatred, insecurity, stress, lack of self-belief and self-loathing.

The other wolf represented the opposite. He stood for self-belief, certainty, security, love, honesty, fun, fulfillment, compassion, joy, peace, integrity, abundance and laughter.

The grandfather held their attention describing the fight between the two wolves.

But then he cautioned his grandchildren that the fight was not going on only between the wolves. “That fight”, he told them, “is going on inside each and every one you.”

The children gasped, and after a few minutes of silence, one of them asked, “Granddad, which wolf won the fight?”

The grandfather swiftly responded, “The wolf that wins the fight is the one that you feed the most!”

August 6th – A day of choice

This August 6th we face a stark choice! Which wolf will we feed?

Christ’s Transfiguration can give us hope in times of confusion and struggle. Or we can choose to be consumed by the flames of anger and hatred.

Such violence is not only in the hearts of others.  If we are honest, there are smoldering flames in our own hearts. Politely we call them resentments, prejudgments, and many other names. But they are the embers and flames of violence nonetheless.

Look around! There are so many flames of violence – structural and personal.  Many of us assume that we, like the tax collector, “are not like the rest of men.”   We downplay the sparks of our violence.

But if we think we are not violent, think again. Just look at how we handle the polarization in our country today.

There are, after all, many grenades of violence we inflict on those we disagree with every day or simply do not understand. These seeds of violence are far more sinister than other, more blatant forms of violence. Precisely because we do not recognize them!

What if we were to live in the transforming hope of Jesus’ Transfiguration and Resurrection? Will we feed the hope that can transfigure our world? If enough of us feed the spirit of the Transfiguration… May God’s kingdom come!

Which will we flame will we feed?





1 Comment

  1. Thomas McKenna

    Very imaginative and topical… Thanks

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