Transfiguration: Awakening Souls to Grace

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Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses on the pretext of the marriage he had contracted with a Cushite woman.

They complained, “Is it through Moses alone that the LORD speaks? Does he not speak through us also?”

And the LORD heard this.

Now, Moses himself was by far the meekest man on the face of the earth. So at once the LORD said to Moses and Aaron and Miriam,

“Come out, you three, to the meeting tent.”

And the three of them went.

Then the LORD came down in the column of cloud, and standing at the entrance of the tent, called Aaron and Miriam. When both came forward, he said,

“Now listen to the words of the LORD:

Should there be a prophet among you, in visions will I reveal myself to him, in dreams will I speak to him; not so with my servant Moses! Throughout my house he bears my trust: face to face I speak to him; plainly and not in riddles. The presence of the LORD he beholds. Why, then, did you not fear to speak against my servant Moses?”

So angry was the LORD against them that when he departed, and the cloud withdrew from the tent, there was Miriam, a snow-white leper! When Aaron turned and saw her a leper, he said to Moses,

“Ah, my lord! Please do not charge us with the sin that we have foolishly committed! Let her not thus be like the stillborn babe that comes forth from its mother’s womb with its flesh half consumed.”

Then Moses cried to the LORD, “Please, not this! Pray, heal her!”

But the LORD answered Moses: Suppose her father had spit in her face, would she not bear her shame for seven days? Let her be confined outside the camp for seven days; afterwards she may be brought back.

So Miriam was confined outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not start out again until she was brought back. (Numbers 12:1-15)

 

In our recent mass readings, we have been following the Jews exiled from Egypt. Chapter after chapter, they grumble against the gifts of God whether it be food, security or His Wisdom offered through Moses. Aaron, Miriam and the people complained loudly. The people didn’t see why Moses was considered so ‘special’. They too hold the truth (so they think). Why should they listen to Moses?

Correcting them, God gives us a clear differentiation between His ‘ordinary ways’ of giving us inspirations and His extraordinary ways of manifesting Himself. In chapter 11, God had imparted His spirit upon 70 elders who, enraptured, spoke His truths (prophesied).  Moses, on the other hand, had allowed God to shape and mold him personally–his soul. We know from elsewhere in the scriptures and from the saints that such a person is in the unitive stage of the spiritual life. This is where they have been purged of mortal and venial sin. Their soul is so sanctified it can only pursue its relationship with God; nothing else satisfies.  With the intellect transformed to think like God, the person cannot conceive otherwise. The smallest devotional sin against that relationship brings great distress.

The soul is so transformed in Christ that the Father looks at it and sees His only begotten son in whom He “is well pleased” (Matthew 17:5). The soul literally is a vessel of Christ and His instrument through whom His Spirit works to touch the souls of those around Him. In the Acts of the Apostles, we see this for Peter and Paul open their mouths and the Spirit speaks. Merely being in the shadow of Peter heals people.

The unsanctified soul cannot bear to be face-to-face with the Light of Glory. Hence, the belief of the biblical Jews that one would die in God’s presence (e.g. Exodus 33:18-23). God usually uses His creation, particularly His angels, to mediate His grace into the powers of our soul (intellect, will, etc.) and into the circumstances of our life.

But the soul in union with God has been transformed such that it is capable of participating in God’s Divine Life. This bringing of the soul into the unity of the Trinity is Divine Intimacy. A person can do nothing other than remain disposed to God, who will grace the soul at His choosing, not ours. It is God’s desire that we all begin to experience this Divine Intimacy in the here-and-now.

Sadly, what we are presently experiencing today are young adult children ‘cancelling’ their parents. Having succumbed to the spirits of the culture of death, they have such disdain for the faith and beliefs of their parents that they abandon their family. Like the Israelites, they proclaim “I have my truth”. Some, like Aaron and Miriam, don’t completely cut ties. Others like the greedy grumbling people, abandon their families and their God completely.

When God removes His grace, Miriam succumbs immediately to leprosy which encompassed her whole body. It seems the disease in her heart, an unholy attitude, manifested through her skin. Meanwhile, and in spite of their ‘cancelling’ him, Moses’ love for his brother, sister and brethren was unscathed. When God transforms the soul, a person develops His “eyes to see” and “ears to hear” because the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are so fully active. A person can see in another the beauty and perilous state of that soul. They can turn the other cheek in love, not fear or avoidance, and focus on salvation. Hence, rather than condemning her or carrying on a spat, Moses immediately turns to God to intercede for Miriam.

Note how, despite of these skirmishes, Miriam’s two brothers immediately stepped up on her behalf. They pleaded with God for her healing. This is family.

Young people today are falling for the false sense of togetherness offered in the secular culture when people bond around ideologies and against those whom they perceive to be the ‘common enemy’: their family. Their souls are indeed in a perilous state. One would think the unfulfilling emptiness of humanism and communism, of platforms, agendas, and an enraged media, would eventually leave them seeking God again. However, the very soul beautifully created by God to be formed to goodness is also capable of being formed towards the faux-goods of the world. With repetition, the brain and powers of the soul (our minds) are malformed. It becomes difficult for them to even conceive in their mind an understanding of true good.

Only the Holy Spirit can puncture the smog of this demon of depravity and awaken their souls to seeking Grace again.

There perhaps has been no time in modern history as the present where our personal holiness matters. We cannot delay in allowing God to transform us, to experience a sort of personal transfiguration. On our own, we can do nothing to bring down the forces of evil in our midst. With God working through us all our efforts are supernaturalized, joined to Him.

We must allow ourselves to be transfigured in Christ so that the souls of those around us are re-awakened to Grace.

For thus says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite. For I will not contend for ever, nor will I always be angry; for from me proceeds the spirit, and I have made the breath of life. (Isaiah 57: 15-16)

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.

Image by Carl Heinrich Bloch, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

This post was originally published on The Face of Grace Project and is reprinted here with permission.

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