Transfiguration of the Lord - Sunday, August 6, 2017

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Father Jim Donohue

August 1, 2017

Recently I had the opportunity to be in Rome. I visited the Vatican Museum and St. Peter’s Basilica. The museum contains the incredible painting by Raphael of the Transfiguration. It was reproduced in mosaic within St. Peter’s Basilica. If you look at the painting, you will notice that there are really two scenes depicted. The first scene is the Transfiguration itself, where the transfigured Jesus, accompanied by Moses (The Law) and Elijah (The Prophets) is revealed to the apostles Peter, James, and John. In a sense, they are able to see his divinity shine through his humanity. The second scene depicts a story that follows closely after the story of the Transfiguration. Here, the disciples are brought an epileptic demoniac, but the boy’s father complains to Jesus that they were not able to cure him (cf. Mt 17:14-20). Jesus insists that the disciples should have been able to cure the boy, but that they lacked the faith to do so. Indeed, looking at the bottom part of the painting the disciples are looking quite confused in the face of the boy’s illness. The bottom left corner even reveals one of the disciples trying to look something up in a book! Only the boy who is possessed seems to be pointing and looking at what will be the source of his cure: Jesus. 

In our own struggles and trials, we can look much like the disciples who are gripped by fear and confusion. Like the boy who was healed, we need to look to Jesus as the source of all that will set us free. Through our own trust in Jesus, we will be pointing out to others that Jesus is the source of healing.