Today’s Gospel reading at Mass was the story of the Transfiguration, that moment in Jesus’ ministry where he appears in his glory to three of his apostles along with Moses (symbolizing the Law), and Elijah (the Prophets). Jesus as Messiah has come to fulfill both the old Law and the words of the Prophets.
But the apostles don’t really get it right away. As the priest said in his homily, “Like many in society, they see Jesus still as Just a Really Great Guy. See, here’s Moses–he’s great. Elijah, he’s great. Jesus, he’s great just like them. So let’s build three booths to commemorate this meeting of great guys.”
And then the voice of God comes and reminds them about Whom they’re speaking.
“This is my beloved Son.“
Nowadays it is the fashion to see Jesus as Just a Real Great Guy. Like Buddha, Confucius, etc. They are all perceived as good teachers. But, as the priest reminds us, neither Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed, etc. ever said they were God. They might have said, “Hey, I’ve found this great way of life. Come follow me on it.”
Jesus alone said, “I AM the Way.”
So it isn’t enough to say that you think Jesus is Just a Real Great Guy. A brilliant teacher, a compassionate healer, a pacifist, a theologian. He claimed to be the Son of God. You have to either believe this, or accept the alternative (it isn’t pretty). And if you believe it, how deeply does that reach into your life right now? How does it affect your choices today, asked the priest.
The priest then practically quoted C.S. Lewis in his homily today, and as Lewis said it much better than I can, so I’m going to end this with a quote I posted last Good Friday.
A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell.
You must make your choice.
Either this man was, and is, the Son of God or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God.
But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” –Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis