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Dear St. Martin’s Parishioners,

At the conclusion of this Sunday’s gospel of the Transfiguration, Jesus tells his three closest apostles that they should keep what they experienced on the mountaintop to themselves until he had risen from the dead. The passage concludes, “So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising of the dead meant.” The apostles are understandably baffled by the concept of rising from the dead. Does it mean that someone suddenly resuscitates after being dead for a certain amount of time? Does it mean that the soul goes on living after the body dies? I am sure the question was fodder for the apostles’ conversations stretching late into many nights.

In essence, Jesus’ glorious transfiguration described in this Sunday’s gospel is his resurrected self. He is both human like us but is utterly different than us. He shares our humanity, but he never ceases to be divine. The Resurrection doesn’t mean that Jesus “came back to life,” or that he shed his human body and was left with an immortal soul. The Resurrection means that Jesus has opened up a new dimension in history. After Jesus rises from the dead, humanity itself becomes transfigured by his grace. We are now invited to share in his Resurrection by means of the sacraments of the Church received in faith.

The Resurrection means nothing less than that Jesus has inaugurated a new creation. (We worship on Sundays rather than the sabbath, because Sunday is the “eighth day,” or the first day of the new creation.) By baptism, we have been reborn through Jesus’ death and resurrection from the dead. At confirmation we receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit, who is the life of every person reborn in Christ. When we receive absolution in confession, we fully reclaim our identity as reborn sons and daughters of God. When we receive Holy Communion, the grace of the Resurrection is increased within us. The Resurrection has touched and transformed every aspect of human life, from our greatest sorrows to our most sublime joys.

Our Lenten penances aren’t sacrifices that we take up to be stronger or or more disciplined. Rather, they are the means by which we appropriate Jesus’ Resurrection more fully in our lives. We have become a new creation in Christ; we participate in this new dimension of human history. We are also familiar with the pull of the “old self ” and the bonds that we have with our fallen world. We were created for more than this world, and everything we do in Lent should be for the sake of that transcendent end.

In the Transfigured Lord,

Fr. Dave

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