The second Sunday of Lent describes the fourth Luminous Mystery of the Rosary. Jesus climbs Mount Tabor to pray, and while he is praying, is transfigured before Peter, James, and John. I think this detail in the Gospel is most important. Prayer transfigures Jesus, at least in the eyes of his friends, and his immaculate nature is thus revealed. “This is my beloved Son,” a voice booms from within the cloud. This is my Son, the all-pure, whose face shines like the sun at midday, and whose vesture gleams white as light. There is no shadow or hint of darkness in Him. Listen to Him; imitate Him, become Him.
In the Epistle, St. Paul pleads with his beloved Christians at Thessalonica to imitate this immaculate whiteness of Christ. As a father, as a mother, he earnestly urges them, in the Lord Jesus, “to refrain from immorality and lust…. God has not called us to impurity but to holiness.” He does so as a mother would speak with her daughter, or a father his son, about the delicate and burning issue of purity. “Conduct yourselves in a way pleasing to God… this is the will of God—your sanctification.” Paul defines “sanctification,” in this passage, as sexual purity. Of course there is much more to holiness than chastity, but sanctification is not possible when one degrades himself in the flesh. We get pretty good marks on purity here at TAC in comparison with Paul’s “gentiles.” “Conduct yourselves,” he says, “so as to please God, as you are already doing,” but I exhort you to do so even more. We too could be more Christ-like, more god-like in our purity. We could imitate the blazing and mighty purity of the Son of God.
My Beloved Son
How do we imitate the purity of Christ Jesus? It is in prayer that we perceive God’s love, and so are strengthened against loveless lust. While in prayer, Christ’s face blazed like the sun and his clothes shone white as light. He spoke with the glorified figures of Moses and Elijah, representing the Law and the Prophets. Jesus reveals himself in complete majesty, a majesty of immaculate purity. His brightness manifests a quality of glorified bodies, “who will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matt 13:43). But faith comes more through hearing than through seeing. And so the Father’s voice commands them to “Listen” to his beloved Son. But how many are listening?
Is anyone listening?
It certainly seems like most people are not listening, and so they fall into gross impurity, an impurity that incapacitates authentic love. Last week I bought a smoothie at a little shop, and the girl at the counter seemed so empty, so debilitated. She didn’t smile, didn’t look at me, spoke in a monotone, and made my smoothie with zombielike movements. I went outside to drink my smoothie and a car dropped off a young woman in a uniform who sat at the next table to await her shift. She too was a zombie: glassy eyes, wooden movements. Behold the casualties of the so-called “sexual revolution.” When I see that kind of emptiness in a young person’s face, I know the cause. They do not know love, they do not know themselves, because they are living a lie in their bodies. They do not see the image of God in the human person, and they will eventually destroy that image—even babies—without a thought, because they have not listened to God’s voice.
We too, even in our vigorous Catholicism, violate holy purity at times in what we watch at the movie theatre, on TV and computers and cell phones. We promote poisonous impurity in how we dress, in the music we listen to, and in how we look at others. The Father’s voice begs us, commands us: Listen to my beloved Son. Do not listen to the world! It is aggressive, demanding, and intolerant. It shouts at you, demands your submission, and soaks you in impurity. If we want to be capable of love, we must listen carefully to God by praying early and often. In the silence of the heart God speaks; only in silence can love speak to us.
May Our Lady, the Immaculata, show us how to see Christ in others, and love Him in others in all purity and sanctity.