Who are you? Did you ever stop to think about that? Really, who are you?
Years ago, while I was still living in New York, we were experiencing a transition in leadership at my former parish. I was concerned about the stability of my employment. I worried that my new pastor might not take me seriously because I was still quite young and well aware that not every pastor sees a need for a full-time music director. When I shared these concerns with my father, who told me that none of these factors were things I should allow to worry me. He said:
“Your work speaks for itself. Your new boss will see that.”
It took a while for me to grasp what he meant. Through time, I began to see that it didn’t matter who I knew, what I studied or even how I presented myself. I discovered that my sense of success was directly correlated to the level in which my heart was fully engaged. Listening to God’s voice, and remaining true to my identity as a child of God was the “work” that would continue speak for itself.
This year, the Transfiguration of the Lord (August 6) happens to coincide with a Sunday, and because of this feast’s significance, the celebration takes precedence over the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time. In the readings for this feast, we’ll experience Christ’s transfiguration from the Gospel of Matthew. The passage might familiar to you- Christ goes up to a mountain with some disciples. He turns dazzling white before them, Old-Testament prophets appear, and a voice from heaven speaks. At the conclusion of the scene, it is indicated that the accompanying disciples do not immediately share with others what they have witnessed.
Earlier in the year, we heard the exact same passage on the Second Sunday of Lent. The account of Christ’s transfiguration is repeated from the perspectives Mark and Luke’s gospels in other years, but Matthew’s account has always been the most difficult for me. In Luke, we hear that the disciples simply decide to remain quiet. In Mark, the disciples are instructed by Christ to keep silent until he rises from dead—a concept which is barely grasped by the three. In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus firmly instructs the disciples to remain silent until the resurrection, and there is no further discussion.
But why? If you just witnessed that your teacher was truly a person of divine influence, wouldn’t you want to share it with everyone?
Disciples were instructed to refrain from sharing what they had witnessed until the resurrection so that Christ’s mission could be truly embraced. Prior to the resurrection, no testimony of any supernatural experience would reveal the fullness God’s love in Christ. While it was important for the disciples to see their teacher in light of Old Testament prophets, it was important for others to form their own opinions. Peter, James and John were asked to stay silent so that Christ’s work- the work of divine, unconditional love- could speak for itself.
As baptized believers, every one of us is called to reveal the presence of Christ to others. The mission of the Church is not restricted to the handful of Christians who are employed in full-time active ministry. All of us are called to continue Christ’s work on earth by loving the one God who made us in divine image. Each one of us is called according to our unique set of strengths to reveal God’s love to other people.
In the week ahead, I encourage you to consider how God has called you to reveal his presence to others. Who has God called you to be? It is so easy, sometimes, to lose our own sense of identity in our relationships, as spouses, parents or caretakers. Careers and ambitions can also distract us from the voice of God who speaks in our hearts.
Know that, first and foremost, you are deeply beloved child of God, created in divine image. Although jobs and families are important priorities, your first line of “work” is to continue the work of Christ on earth. How do you reveal your Christian faith to others? Does your Christian work truly speak for itself?