‘Rise and have no fear’
March 6, 2018
Coming down from Mount Tabor, the thought occurred to me that the sacrament of Holy Orders is in some way clothed by the mystery of the Transfiguration. I don’t think a man with any degree of humility can approach holy orders without some sense of fear and awe before the mystery. The disciples were having some reason to fear as they ascended Mount Tabor with our Lord. Jesus had just informed them that he must go to Jerusalem to suffer and die. (Mt 16:21) They were told, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Mt 16:24-25)
The call to follow our Lord in this way would be unimaginable without our faith in Him as God. For this reason the glory of the Lord was revealed to the apostles on Mount Tabor. They heard the voice of the Father say, “This is my beloved Son… listen to him.” Jesus then said to them, “Rise, and have no fear.”
All good and well for Peter, James and John, who witnessed the Transfiguration. But what about us? Within the Basilica of the Transfiguration where we had Mass, there are on the walls of the crypt different symbols of the transfiguration:
His birth, whereby God became man; the Eucharist, wherein ordinary elements of bread and wine are transfigured into the real presence of Jesus Christ to live among us and to nourish us; and his death and resurrection which shows his power to transfigure our sinful flesh into life eternal. These symbols sum up the message of the Gospel which we are ordained to preach.
Although there has been built on this mount a church resembling the three tents which Peter proposed to build, we still had to come down after Mass.
The fear and awe will most likely follow us, and maybe even intensify, up to the moment in which we are prostrate on the floor before the bishop. But face down before such a mystery, our Lord will say to us, “rise, and have no fear.” And rising with our eyes fixed on Jesus alone, we will serve his Church.
By Bro. David Yallaly (Canons Regular of St. John Cantius)
Photos by Declan McNicholas (Diocese of Gary) and Peter Pedrasa (Diocese of Tucson)