By Bishop Joseph Kopacz
One of the featured movies of the spring season is Son of God, which was released on Feb.
28 in time for the Lenten season when Christians generally are more attuned to the call of the Lord to turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel. This major motion picture is billed as “an experience created to be shared among families and communities across the U.S.” It brings the story of Jesus’ life to audiences through compelling cinematic storytelling that is both powerful and inspirational. Told with the scope and scale of an action epic, the film features powerful performances, exotic locales, dazzling visual effects and a rich orchestral score. The film spans from Jesus’ humble birth through his teachings, crucifixion and ultimate resurrection.
A spellbinding description of the movie for sure because it describes many encounters with Jesus when he walked the earth, and ever since in the lives of believers. In fact, it may not be as captivating as the action, the features, the exotic locations, and the dazzling visual effects of the Transfiguration, one of the gospel accounts proclaimed on the second Sunday of Lent every year. Here we have the vista, not only of an incredible view from Mount Tabor, but also the guest appearances of Moses and Elijah, the law and the prophets, revealing the fulfillment of God’s plan in Jesus Christ. What a view!
We have the visual effects of a light that is brighter than that of the sun, transformed clothing whiter than snow, an enveloping cloud darker than night, and a voice that knocks Peter, James, and John to the ground trembling with fear. How about those dazzling cinematic effects?
In the midst of this sensory overload, the voice from behind the scene, actually from heaven, does not announce the main character as Son of God as if in some spectacular Hollywood drama, but: ‘this is my Son, my beloved, listen to Him.’ Wow, only God can speak in this manner. It’s not about power and might, but about love and the sacrifice that always infuses love with integrity and purpose. It’s not about entertainment, but about inspiration that leads to faith, hope, and love in the beloved Son of God.
The reactions of St. Peter in the Transfiguration moment, is an invaluable lesson from the first among the apostles. He blurts out “it is good that we are here. Let’s erect three booths.” Of course he wanted to stay. Who wouldn’t? But Jesus immediately directed them back to the valley where God’s work awaited them.
Sometimes we encounter the Lord Jesus in our prayer alone, or with two or three others, or with a community of faith on the Lord’s Day, but we always return to those awaiting us to live and love in His name. Peter, James, and John were overcome with fear of the Lord, one of the great gifts of the Holy Spirit, but it was not a gift to isolate them or us on a mountain, but a gift to inspire them and us to listen to Him, and to follow Him everyday.
Later on in the New Testament St. Peter offers us the following inspired words indicating that the Transfiguration was more than just a memory. “We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he had received honor and glory from God the Father when that unique declaration came to him from the majestic glory. “This is my Son, my beloved.”
We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven while we were with him on the holy mountain…You will do well to be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”
We can feel the power of the Lord in Peter’s words and life. Through our prayer, fasting, and sacrificial giving during Lent we are inviting the morning star, the Lord himself, to rise in our hearts, but not in clever or in overly dramatic ways. Through an active faith the Lord will continue to transform us into His image and likeness through His life giving death and resurrection. We can see the glory of God on the face of Jesus Christ in forgiveness and reconciliation, in beauty and truth, in justice and peace, in patient listening and kind words.
With God’s Spirit at work, then the billing for Son of God rightly promotes that the movie is “an experience created to be shared among families and communities across the U.S.” Glory to you, Lord Jesus Christ!