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God likes clouds.

When we look closely at Sacred Scripture, we see that clouds are very important for the history of salvation.  God has a habit of living in the clouds and speaking from the clouds.  In today’s first reading, God spoke from the clouds and said to Abraham, “Do not sacrifice your son on the altar.”  That was God’s way of saying, “Child sacrifice is wrong.  We do not believe in child sacrifice like the pagans do.”  After the Hebrew people escaped from the Pharaoh, God used a cloud to lead them to safety through the Red Sea and into the Sinai desert.  On top of Mount Sinai, God delivered the Ten Commandments by speaking from a cloud. 

 

When Jesus was baptized, God spoke from the cloud.  God said, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.”   On top of Mount Tabor, when Jesus was transfigured, the clouds opened up and God said, “This is my son, my chosen one.  Listen to him.”  The lesson here is that God the Father wants us to listen to Jesus.  Listen to him when he gives you the eight beatitudes and the Golden Rule and the Two Great Commandments: “Love the Lord thy God and love thy neighbor.”

 

Now let’s look at the people who were there.  Jesus was there in all his glory.  What kind of glory?  The glory of the resurrection.  His face was shining like the sun.  His clothing was dazzlingly white.  He was making a Resurrection appearance even before he suffered and died.  He made this resurrection appearance right after predicting that he would suffer greatly and be killed and rise after three days.  His lesson was direct and easy to remember: suffering and dying lead to resurrection.  He was saying, “My dear people, look beyond your pain and see the healing that is to come.” 

 

Who else was there?  Peter, James, and John had the privilege of being there.  They had the honor of seeing the glorified and Risen Lord before he rose from the dead.  They had a glimpse into the future.  They saw the resurrection which was yet to come.  It was a glorious experience for them, and Peter wanted the experience to last.

 

He said to Jesus, “We could set up three tents here. One for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah. But Jesus turned away from him and headed back down the mountain.  Why?  Why did Jesus head back down the mountain?  Because he was on a mission of mercy, and he had a lot more work that he wanted to do.  Thus, Jesus had a lesson for Peter and James and John and for us.  Sometimes life gives us mountaintop experiences.  Then we have to come down from the mountain and return to the hard work of building the Kingdom.

 

Moses and Elijah were also on the mountaintop.  They represented the Old Testament.  They represented the Law and the Prophets.  Moses represented the Law because he was the law giver.  He gave the Ten Commandments to his people.  Elijah represented the Prophets because he was the prophet who taught people how to obey the Law.  Peter, James and John saw Jesus talking with Moses and Elijah because he came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets.  He did not set them aside.  And the lesson is this: the Ten Commandments and the challenges that we get from the prophets are valid for us today.

 

The main characters in the story are the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  The Father is present in His voice saying, “This is my Beloved Son.  Listen to Him.”  The Son is present in Jesus, the word made flesh.  The Spirit is present in the bright cloud that overshadows them.  The Trinity of divine persons was present and active on that holy mountain on the day of Transfiguration and the Trinity of divine persons is present and active in our community today.  The question is: How is the Trinity active in our community today?

 

The Father is the one who gives us the call to holiness.  And the Father’s call is in the present.   The Father calls us by saying, “Listen to my beloved Son.  And follow Him.”  The Son is the one who shows us the way.  Jesus shows us the path to life.  Here and now, today!  His action is not confined to the past.  Jesus is helping us to pass over from pride to humility.  He is helping us to pass over from selfishness to sharing.  He is helping us to pass over from sinful behaviors to healthy behaviors.

 

The Holy Spirit is the one who helps us to be followers of Christ.  The Spirit is providing guidance so that we can be more and more like Christ.  The Spirit is giving us the energy and the strength that we need so that we can be faithful all the days of our lives.

 

Let’s take a moment now to reflect upon what God is doing in our lives today.  The Father is calling us to follow the Son.  The Son is showing us the path to life.  And the Holy Spirit is giving us the strength we need for the journey to an intimate life with Christ.

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Br. Ralph Edwin Dahl, osc     1938–2024

The Mass of Christian Burial for Br. Ralph will take place at 11 a.m. on July 25, at the Crosier Priory in Onamia,

with the Office of the Dead at 7:30 a.m. (Morning Prayer) followed by the Reception of the Body at 9:30 a.m. and visitation at 10 a.m.

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