Monday, August 6, 2012

A blinding light

     It was an intimate mountaintop experience for a few close friends.  Tension was building and things looked bleak for the future.  Those opposed to the truth that Jesus was revealing were set to bring him down. So Jesus took Peter, James and John to that mountaintop and gave them a glimpse of who he really is - God!  There was a cloud involved, and an awesome, blinding light.  They saw something that few had ever seen before (and lived) - the glory of God!  They were overcome, speechless, unsure as to what to do next.  When Moses saw the face of God his hair turned snow white and his face glowed, scripture says.  When these three saw the face of God they were strengthened and fortified for the task ahead, and they were never the same.

     I remember being taught that when we reached heaven we would shared in the beatific vision, we would see the face of God and be transformed.  All darkness was consumed by the light of that face, which is the indescribable power of God.  We would never be the same.  In the Transfiguration of Our Lord, celebrated on this 6th day of August, we are given a glimpse of that glory that will be so generously given to us in the beatific vision.  We are reminded that we share in his glory, a glory belongs to God, and that like the moon with the sun, we reflect that glory and are not the source of it.

     Today, as I mentioned in last year's post for this date, marks the anniversary of another blinding light that revealed an unbridled power, a cloud of destruction rather than life-giving mystery seen by the world, and a victory won that unleashed not glory but rather fear and dread for the past sixty-seven years.  On this day, in 1945, on the city of Hiroshima, Japan, the first Atomic bomb was dropped by the U.S.  It destroyed the city and killed 140,000 people outright.  Three days later a second bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki, killing another 70,000.  Those bombs, those deaths helped bring about the end of a devastating war.  You could say that a good came from that evil.  But it was an evil.  And the truth that "the end does not justify the means" is of paramount importance in our historical understanding of this action.  Granted, it brought the conflict to a close.  Granted, we had the capability to use this weapon.  But was it the right thing to do?  History will give us answers over time.  But God will give the ultimate answer ... were we ready or able to deal with this destructive power that imitates the life giving power of God?  Or did we unleash that which was not ours to unleash?  How ironic that after all of these centuries of celebrating the Transfiguration on the 6th of August, that the date for these last 67 years is remembered for a bombing.

     It was Pope Paul VI, who died on this date in 1978, who said before the U.N. "No more war! War never again!"  If only the world had listened to those prophetic words.

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