The Transfiguration, Faith and Family Matters
If a person wants to probe the mystery of the life of Jesus, one might find it helpful to think of the Transfiguration of Jesus as it must have impacted the Holy Apostles, Peter, James and John, but especially Peter.
It is clear, is it not, that this experience dramatically affected the Apostles’ way of winning converts to Christ? When they started to evangelize after the Resurrection, the Transfiguration had made them stronger in tough times. Understanding this experience can help us be better teachers of the faith.
As we think of the climb up the mountain, who knows, maybe Peter was having a good bit of doubt at this point. Maybe he was saying, "One minute you treat me like a prince, you call me the 'Rock of your Church.' The next minute, when I want to stop you from dying, you treat me like the enemy and call me Satan. What is all this about?" Then, they get up on the mountain there and Peter, James and John have this spectacular experience of seeing Jesus shining, standing with Moses and Elijah.
This whole scene is capped with the voice from the cloud, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.”
Ok, let’s take a step back then, and see what we can learn. How does the Transfiguration change us, so to speak? How can we learn from the Apostles, especially St. Peter? I want you to ask yourself what you might learn about transmitting the faith in your family from this experience.
There is a recent study published in a book called “Families and Faith: How Religion is Passed Down Across Generations,” (Oxford) by Vern Bengston, with Norella Putney and Susan Harris. Bengston and his crew follow 350 families composed of 3500 individuals over several generations.
In a recent article on Zenit, (http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/39793, March 16, 2014) a review of the book says,
“Church attendance in the United States hit a peak in the period 1950-59. Following that there was a gradual decline in the 1960s and a sharp decrease in the following decade.
Immigration from Hispanic countries has offset the numbers of Catholics leaving the Church, but what Bengtson singled out was the growth in the number of ‘nones,’ that is, those who say they have no religious affiliation. By 2012 they represented almost 20% of the adult population.”
The Zenit article then makes a number of observations from the book about the impact of family on the transmission of religion:
Nevertheless, the type of family life does influence the degree to which religious faith is passed on. Warm, affectionate parenting is most likely to result in the successful transmission of religion, Bengtson noted. This was particularly true for relations with fathers, he added.
….Grandparents can have considerable influence and are often more important regarding the religiosity of their grandchildren than is recognized.
Apart from the type of parenting, there are other family situations that have an important impact on the transmission of religion.
Parents in a same-faith marriage are more likely to achieve religious continuity across generations. This is particularly true when both parents are actively religious and religion plays an important role in their lives.
Divorce often, but not always, is a disruptive force in the transmission of religious traditions.
Here are three points to consider for faith in the family.
My first point: Don’t let the crosses in your life be a stumbling block for your children’s faith. Peter, in particular, has learned that you cannot reject the Cross without turning your back on God’s plan. In doing so you become the enemy of God. If you have been turning away from the Cross, get back to it. Get back to Jesus. When the going gets tough, don’t run. Let our blessed Lord show you the true meaning of the crosses in life. If you have difficulties, crosses, that are impacting the way you live and present the faith in the family, fight the devil. Remember, he will use anything to win the souls of your children including making you think you are unhappy, causing financial difficulties and any other problems that can take your mind off the most important things in life. All the time you are thinking about how miserable you are, have you ever thought that maybe that is just the devil’s way of taking your children to hell? If you need help to get on the right footing, seek it out. All things are possible with Christ.
Second: If you are following your own ideas about what the faith ought to be, you need conversion. The Apostles come to a deeper knowledge of who this Jesus is. He is like Moses and Elijah, but even the voice from the cloud tells them that He is greater. If they had any questions about how to interpret the law and the prophets before this, they do not have any now.
This is important for us. Many times, people dip a finger into the Bible and come up with a morsel from one of the prophets or from the law and they want to judge that the Church has made a mistake. But, if we are supposed to listen to Jesus, then we know that the Church, founded on the Rock of Peter, is the one against whom the gates of the netherworld cannot prevail. So those Catholics who depart from this haven of safety, the One Holy Catholic Church, are living by following their own private interpretations. Don’t confuse the issue about those born into other communities of faith. God can handle that. That’s not your problem right now. I am talking about your Catholic children. Peter’s experience with his own faith propelled him to be very clear about the duties of his office. In 2 Peter 2:20 he tells us to “know this, first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation.” I ask you, what better lesson could Peter have had than these events to cause him to write this to us? Remember Peter also warns in chapter 3 v. 18 that in the letters of Paul there are some things that are hard to understand that the ignorant and unstable distort to their own destruction, just as they do the other scriptures.
My final point: You see the Risen Lord at each Holy Mass and it is your duty to lead others to Him. I think you should know that Jesus expects you to speak about him in your life. You are a prophet, a teacher, a priest, and a missionary to your children. You have a position in your current situation that requires that you speak of what you have seen and heard. This, my friend, is really very simple. You are standing at the end of a line. If you do not attempt to bring some one to Christ that you are close to, what do you suppose will happen to them and to the Church? If you do not go to those around you and bring the Lord to them, that line, that part of the Church ends with you.
Now, if the Father is well-pleased with Jesus and tells us so. Shouldn’t we be able to tell others. If God can say how wonderful his Son is, won’t you do it, too?