Transfiguration and Washing Feet
As I reflect on this Sunday readings, the Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus, interestingly, it is the image of Christ washing the feet of the disciples that immediately comes to mind. The Christ, transfigured on Mt. Tabor, is the same Christ who knelt before each of his disciples as humble servant and washed their feet.
Too often, we desire to move, intellectually and spiritually, to the image of God and of Christ Jesus as divinely manifested in all glory, power, and majesty. Too often, we might get caught up with festive religious celebrations full of grand processions and majestic robes. Too often, like Peter we want to remain up on the mountaintop in the majestic glory of the presence of God. Like Peter we want to set up ‘tents’ or shrines to mark these places as sacred, places of our encounter with the Divine.
Yes, we are called to come to know and dwell with the transfigured Christ and to grow in union with God’s Divine Love. The gift of Christ’s transfiguration is the invitation to Peter, James, and John and to all who follow Christ to gaze into eternity. God desires our union. This feast is God’s invitation to glimpse beyond our human understanding and to imagine Eternal Divine Life.
St. Clare of Assisi, a woman who lived in the medieval world, expressed this invitation to feast on God’s divine presence as she wrote to St. Agnes of Prague, “Place your mind before the mirror of eternity! Place your soul in the brilliance of glory! Place your heart in the figure of divine substance! And transform your whole being into the image of the Godhead Itself, through contemplation!” In another letter to Agnes she instructed her to, “gaze upon Him, consider Him, contemplate Him, as you desire to imitate Him.”
Both Clare and Agnes were drawn to the gospel life of poverty that they witnessed in Francis of Assisi and the early friars. This gospel life brought Francis and his brothers not to lofty mountain tops or quiet cloistered monasteries but into the forests and caves where the lepers dwelt abandoned and isolated and into the hovels where the poor and the destitute longed for food and comfort. Clare, Agnes and the women who were drawn to this gospel life of poverty also desired to serve the poorest of the poor and to see themselves as “minoras” or little ones, servants washing the feet of others, as Christ did.
As Christians and especially as Franciscans today, the gospel call has not changed. Our life, prayer and spirituality must be deeply rooted in the fourfold movement of gazing, considering, and contemplating which moves us into imitating and embodying the presence of Christ as humble servants for others. Our gospel call should lead us more deeply into Divine Love and then outside of our shrines and churches into the marketplaces and streets where those who are lost, abandoned, and poor still struggle from the loss of their human dignity and the basic needs for living.
Pope Francis wrote, “I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security. I do not want a Church concerned with being at the center and which then ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures. If something should rightly disturb us and trouble our consciences, it is the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters are living without the strength, light and consolation born of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to support them, without meaning and a goal in life. More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us: “Give them something to eat” (Mk 6:37). (Evangelii Gaudium apostolic exhortation, 49. (November 2013)
May Christ’s divine transformative energy move us beyond our narrow views of ourselves, our church and our world, to be a transforming reality that heals, comforts and brings new life and relationships to birth in our world.
Sr. Margaret Magee, OSF
Franciscan Action Network
Pray this week for a conscientious awareness of your view of yourself and others. Are you a harsh judge of yourself or others?
May the transformation of Christ penetrate our hearts and transform us into the loving, healing, comforting hands of Jesus. We pray…
May the message of the Gospel and our Holy Father, Pope Francis resonate deeply with all Christians and move them to action, We pray…