On August 21st of this year a rare phenomenon will occur right here in our backyard. A solar eclipse where the totality of the sun will pass behind the moon will be visible across the skies of our country. There is a 70 mile diagonal strip that runs the full length of our nation beginning on the west coast in Madras, Oregon and ending in the East in Columbia, South Carolina where viewers may witness for around 2 minutes and 40 seconds a total but momentary blackout of the daylight as we know it. This will be accompanied by a rapid temperature drop and a revealing of massive streamers of light as they streak through the sky around the silhouette of the moon. This display of light and darkness will sure to be memorable to all who gaze upon, but remember don’t look directly at the sun even while partially covered, you don’t want to burn those precious retinas of yours.
Today as we celebrate the Transfiguration of our Lord on Mount Tabor we hear that the face of Jesus shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. Jesus the son of God is more radiant than the star that shines at the center of our galaxy and yet his disciples are still able to look upon Him. What they see is not some cosmic rare occasion, but the fullest revelation of the Jesus’ divine nature. They react not by putting on protective lens but by falling prostrate with fear and awe. One trappist monk describes what happens by saying, “Peter, James, and John here know that the Holy God has come close to them, and therefore they instinctively react like wax melting before the approach of living fire. This shows the depth of their spiritual awareness—awareness both of who they are and who God is.” They are utterly overwhelmed by the person of Jesus Christ the same man, who will later wash their feet, who will be dirtied and bloodied and die a criminal’s death all by his own accord, but in this moment He stand before them exposed in His glory.
God does that. What if we look at the Mass as our mountaintop, our Tabor and the Eucharist as the light of His presence? He has invited us, his chosen disciples to share this moment of intimacy with Him who will be totally exposed before us. Echoing the words of Peter it is good that we are here—because here we not only see the living God come down from heaven and we experience His touch as we consume Him. Just as the sun will be swallowed up by the moon during the time of the eclipse so too do we momentarily step in front of Jesus when we take him into our being at communion. His light shines through our darkness, but this doesn’t have to be for a mere duration and then forgotten but it can be written on the sky of our hearts forever if we let it. This takes place when we are moved by the words of the Father, “this is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased Listen to Him” to listen and be attentive to the Lord is to actually expect God to talk to us, to lead our actions, and to anticipate his inspiration. When we align our desires with His—-great graces will be given and more people will be exposed to the light of Christ.
The challenge is to keep our eyes looking in the right direction. Hotels in small towns like Hopkinsville, Kentucky which lie directly in the path of the total eclipse have been booked for well over a year in advance by people who don’t want to miss out on this once in a lifetime opportunity. My brothers and sisters how much greater should our anticipation be for the one who breathed out the entirety of the solar system at the dawn of creation. Here in this sacramental miracle we have a perfect view of the light of His face as it is lifted up for us in the Eucharist. Let us pray for the grace to not treat this like any other ordinary day but instead that we might be moved by the transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ the TRUE SON that shines forth our way to glory.