Dear Friends in Christ:
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Transfiguration, where prior to the events of the Resurrection and Ascension, the Lord’s heavenly glory was revealed to Sts. Peter, James and John on Mount Tabor. As the scriptures relate, “Jesus was transfigured before them.” Here the apostles could see the glory of the Son of God. They could see beyond what their eyes could capture. They could perceive more than their minds could hold. In seeing Moses and Elijah in conversation with Jesus, they in a way themselves transcend their own limitations and history. With Moses (The Law) and Elijah (The Prophets) the glory of Jesus as the fulfillment of The Law and The Prophets is made manifest to them. The presence and glory of God, who is love, is Jesus!
In our new tabernacle, we attempted to echo these same themes and then some. When you look at the tabernacle, the first thing you notice is that it is located in the highest place in the church – it is a mountain, if you will. The tabernacle is a brilliant and shining gold reflecting the glory of God. It also incorporates architectural elements of our church building – the tracery of the windows, the lantern dome – It is a Domus Dei (A House of God). On the front side panels in silver are two figures – Moses and Elijah. In the center, on the tabernacle doors, is a cross in a circle. It is a polished white gold, shining in glory. This represents Jesus, the Eternal Word and Eternal Son of God. At the top of the tabernacle are the opening words of the Sanctus:
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts. Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
Jesus has come to us in his incarnation and he will come again in glory at the end of time. Yet he comes to us today in His Word and in The Eucharist, the Sacrament of his body and blood! At the base of the tabernacle are the words of Jesus from his Eucharistic Discourse in John 6, Ego Sum Panis Vitae – I am the Bread of Life. Here, as the apostles on Mount Tabor at the Transfiguration, when we gaze upon Jesus in the tabernacle, we can see beyond what eyes can capture or our minds hold. We “see” the glory of God’s love poured out for us in his only Son. We “see” Jesus’ love in his body and blood poured out for us for the forgiveness of our sins. We can see the victory of Jesus and the gift that he holds out for us. Like St. Peter, we too proclaim “Lord, it is good for us to be here!”
In looking at the tabernacle containing the Holy Eucharist at the highest point of the church and the center of the sanctuary, we are reminded that Jesus is to be at the center of our lives and have the highest place in our hearts. We are to imitate the angels, whose statues flank the tabernacle. We see in the statues of the two angels what our life’s disposition should be: We should live our lives in such a way, that we always give homage and adoration to our Lord. While Jesus was gloriously transfigured before the apostles, if we live our lives recognizing the presence of Jesus and loving Jesus and giving him homage and adoration we shall be transformed! We will share in the glory of God and live with him forever!
In Pace Christi,
Fr. Troy Gately