Tuesday, August 01, 2006

LISTEN TO HIM!

On various occasions, Our Divine Savior made it clear to His disciples that He would offer His life up to the Father on the Cross of Calvary. However, despite His painstakingly preparing them for the “Scandal of the Cross,” they remained incredulous. They persisted in their desires that Our Lord’s mission would be the restoration of Israel to its former glory. The last thing that they wanted was a suffering Messiah, one who would die on a cross.

Shortly before the Transfiguration, depicted in today’s Gospel, Our Lord warned them again regarding the Crucifixion. When, He did, Peter took Him aside and said: “This can never be.” This angered Our Lord and He rebuked Peter severely: “Get behind me you devil.” Imagine! Just a few days before, Jesus had promised to give to Peter the Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. Now, He calls him a devil! Why! Peter wanted an earthy kingdom, a kingdom of this world. He was consumed with this world and not with the things of heaven.

To prepare the Apostles for “the Scandal of the Cross,” Our Lord took Peter, James and John up on a high mountain. There He allowed the glory of His Divinity to shine forth. Yes! He would allow Himself to be crucified. But He would do so of His own will. He would die in our place, accepting the punishment our sins deserved.

Jesus is no mere man. He is the Son of God, who became man! Thus, on the Mount of the Transfiguration, Our Savior’s face became as radiant as the sun. Moses and Elijah then appeared with Him. They represented the Old Covenant, which was about to be replaced by the new. They were to remind us of the Law of Moses and the Prophets. God's commandments, given to Moses, reminds us that God does make moral demands and is keenly interested in man's actions.

Despite this reminder, many today fall into the foolish trap of thinking that the Lord accepts our sinful behavior. Sin can never be acceptable to God. Jesus Christ came into the world to take us out of our sins, not to confirm us in them. He is our Savior from sin, Satan and eternal death. Jesus Christ does not leave us in our sins! We, in turn, must respond to Our Lord’s redemptive act by repentance.

The role of the prophets is to call men back to the observance of God’s commandments. They did this by proclaiming the moral order. God sends the prophets to warn mankind of the consequences of sin and that God does punish the unrepentant sinner. The last of the great prophets was Our Lord Himself, who came as Priest, Prophet and King. Moses and Elijah foreshadowed the New Covenant. Our Lord instituted the New Covenant, which is the Catholic Church. In fidelity to her mandate from the Lord, the Church, in every era, exercises its prophetic role by calling men back from sin to the observance of the moral order.

In today’s Gospel, we hear the words of the Heavenly Father booming down from the heavens: “This is my beloved Son! Hear Him!” How do we hear Jesus Christ? How do we know that we are following His Gospel? The answer is clear: when we are obedient to the teachings of His Holy Church, the One, Holy, Roman Catholic, and Apostolic Church. When the Church teaches through its Magisterium, that is, its teaching Authority, it teaches us in the name of Jesus Christ and under the guide of the Holy Spirit. When we are obedient to the teachings of the Holy Father, the Vicar of Jesus Christ on Earth, we are being obedient to Jesus. The Pope, and the Bishops who teach in union with him, teach us in the name of Jesus Christ and under the guide of the Holy Spirit.

If we are to be true followers of Our Lord, we must be obedient to the teachings of the Holy Father and the Bishops united with him. “He who hears you, hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” By dissenting from the teachings of the Pope of Rome, one separates himself from Jesus Christ and His holy Church. For, the Church is Jesus Christ is the Church and the Church is Jesus Christ! It is His Mystical Body!

THIS IS MY BELOVED SON! HEAR HIM! On the Day of Judgment, Our Lord will ask us if we obeyed that divine commandment. May God grant we are able to say, “Yes Lord, I was obedient to your Church.”

Father Richard J. Rego, S.T.L.

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