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Who is Jesus and why do we follow him?
The first disciples originally followed Jesus because he was a great preacher, a wise philosopher, a learned teacher, a holy man, a Rabbi of distinction, a charismatic figure, and for many other reasons. He intrigued them.
Only slowly did they come to accept that he was more than the average man. In fact, he was both man and God. They were slow to understand the other nature obscured within his human nature. Today is a reading about the time they first begin to understand in a very significant way the great power behind the person of Jesus. He was not only human, he was also divine.
Jesus took Peter, James and John “up a high mountain and he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them. . . A bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.’”
We know why the early disciples followed Jesus up the mountain as their great teacher and guide, but why did they continue to follow him after the scandal of the crucifixion? Why did they continue to put their own lives at risk to proclaim him? Why was Peter willing to be crucified upside down, Stephen willing to be stoned to death, and all of the early followers willing to give up home and family for Jesus? Because he was no mere man — he was also God. And he was a God who loved them enough to die for them, powerful enough to save them from eternal death, and compassionate enough to give them peace in a world that was often afraid.
Who is Jesus and why do we follow him? Why do we try our best to give our entire lives to him? It’s not because he could tell a good story, provide insightful parables, and was a great moral leader. No. We follow him because he has become our Lord and our God. In him, though him, and with him, we touch the God who raises us up to the kingdom of Heaven itself. He has died for us. He has risen and come back to us. He remains with us.
Let us see not only the human Jesus but see through his humanity to find our God shining through his every word, his every deed, and his every promise to us.
When the three disciples came down after their eye-popping experience, they wanted to tell everyone about it, but “Jesus charged them, ‘Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.’” And that is what they did. After Jesus rose, they told everyone about him and who he was, Lord and Savior, God’s only Son, equal to him in every way.
Now, we also live in the time following the Resurrection. It is now our time to tell the story of who Jesus is and why we follow him.
Have a blessed week everyone, and let’s pray for our youth who have just completed a pilgrimage to World Youth Day with our Holy Father Pope Francis, for their safe return and spiritual renewal.