A few weeks ago, our Deacon, John Hancock, gave a great homily in which he said “let Lent be a time for us to rid ourselves of all that is rooted in the false self: bitterness, acts of selfishness, jealously, immorality, impurity, greed, and so forth” (Gal 5:19-21). Paul, in his letter to the Galations, called these the “works of the flesh” which are opposed to the spirit. They are contrary to the true self, which God calls us to be.
The other day I read: “Christ tells us to be true to our inborn need to depend.” This need to depend is that hole in all of us, that “God-hole” that only God can fill. We might call it the need to be loved, a longing in us that is never quite satisfied, a desire for connection and intimacy. It is a need we look to others to fill: mother, father, spouse, friends. But they cannot fill it either; only God can. It is as if God wants to be mother, father, spouse, and friend to all of us.
The saints remind us that as we grow in closer union with God we discover both our true self, in which we are most like Christ, and we learn to grow in our trust in God for our needs. This is a truth that cuts across religious boundaries. It is not just a Catholic doctrine.
For ourselves who are Catholic, through Lent and the aestheticism we are asked to practice during Lent, we recognize and strip away the false self so that we draw closer to our true self, where God dwells within us.
Christ is the template, the image of what we are called to be. In today’s Gospel we are asked to contemplate the transfiguration of Christ before the scandal of the cross. It is also a promise, a hope given to us of what we can be if we allow Christ free reign in our hearts.
As we read in the Catechism: (CCC556) On the threshold of the public life: the baptism; on the threshold of the Passover: the Transfiguration. Jesus’ baptism proclaimed “the mystery of the first regeneration”, namely our Baptism; the Transfiguration “is the sacrament of the second regeneration”: our own Resurrection.300 From now on we share in the Lord’s Resurrection through the Spirit who acts in the sacraments of the Body of Christ. The Transfiguration gives us a foretaste of Christ’s glorious coming, when he “will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body.”301 But it also recalls that “it is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God.”302
Father Michael Phillippino