“He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body.” (Philippians 3:21)
We don’t understand God’s love. We don’t understand the depths of his love and of his mercy. If we truly understood His love then sin would not enter into our thinking. We would not dare hurt this relationship of love. I always like to use the analogy of a married couple who are so in love with each other that they seek only to make the other happy and love would put any selfish thoughts that might injure that relationship out of their heads. So it is with our relationship with God who despite our sins still seeks to restore us to what we were created to be: like his son Jesus Christ.
In today’s gospel, Jesus takes his disciples up the mountain where he not only is transfigured before them, but he also speaks with Moses and Elijah. Now while Matthew and Mark tell us that Jesus was conversing with these two pillars of the Old Testament, Luke is the only one that tells us what they were actually talking about: “[they] spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem (Lk 9:31).” Now whenever we hear the word “exodus” we think of Moses and how he liberated Israel from slavery and led the exodus out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. But now Jesus, the new Moses, who will give us a new law of love and a new covenant will go to Jerusalem and through the blood of his cross lead the exodus of all people from sin and death to light and life. Jesus himself will show us the depth of God’s love through the Transfiguration for like St. Paul says in the second reading, he will transform our lowly bodies into a glorified body like his.
Last night, I concelebrated a Mass with the Archbishop that celebrated the 40th Anniversary of “Encuentros Juveniles” which is a youth apostolic movement of the Archdiocese that has put on over 180 retreats for young men and women over the last four decades. I was blessed to attend one during my seminary years as was the Archbishop and most of the ten priests that were concelebrating. The Archbishop pointed to the song that the kids sing as they come out of the retreat house for the first time and into the closing Mass which is titled “Yo quiero ser feliz (I want to be happy).” It is a simple song that is joyously repeated over and over again by the kids at the top of their lungs because they have just had an encounter with Jesus Christ. The Archbishop even went as far as to say that they had a “transfiguration moment” like the disciples during the retreat which impacted them so much that they wanted to sing of this joy. As you can imagine, over 40 years of retreats produces many young disciples of Christ, and we gathered after Mass last night for a gala where we reminisced about old times and the things we accomplished. Christ had brought us together all those years ago and he had brought us together again for that evening. We saw slideshows of our old exploits in the 90’s and what marveled me back then as a seminarian is the amount of work my friends would put into making these retreats a success. We have aged since those days. In fact, the lights were brought up at one point for a picture, and I made the comment to dim them again because we looked younger. It reminded me of the song from Fun. that has been playing on the radio for some time now: “Tonight, we are young.”
But you see, it’s not only last night, for in the eyes of God we are always young, we are always his children. His love and his grace keeps us young and helps us conquer the world for Christ. As he finishes his pontificate this week, I am reminded of something Pope Benedict XVI said at his Installation Mass: “The Church is young.” There is so much yet to be accomplished for the sake of the gospel and for that we must submit ourselves to God’s love and mercy during this Lenten season. He will turn our lowly bodies into glorified ones. We will always be his young children. I’ll end with this because it was the highlight of my day. When I saying hello to the faithful before Noon Mass, I walked up to a little old lady who I see every week, and she sitting in her pew and smiling up at me. She was dressed to the nines and she tells me, “Father, today I am greatly blessed.” I asked her why and she responded: “Because today I am celebrating my 90th birthday!” She was so thrilled to be at church to celebrate Mass. We can be 7, 17, or 90. God will never stop showering with his abundant love which is the only thing that makes us truly happy like on those youth retreats and totally rejuvenates us as it did that young lady whose 90th birthday we celebrated today. Indeed, we are young.