Transfiguration and the death of Pope Paul VI

Pope Paul VI, Audience Hall, May 1976
Pope John Paul II would always mention in his homilies on the Feast of the Transfiguration the fact that his predecessor Pope Paul VI died on August 6, 1978. Here are two excerpts from homilies dating 1999 and 2000:
We, pilgrims on earth, are granted to rejoice in the company of the
transfigured Lord when we immerse ourselves in the things of above through
prayer and the celebration of the divine mysteries. But, like the
disciples, we too must descend from Tabor into daily life where human
events challenge our faith. On the mountain we saw; on the paths of life
we are asked tirelessly to proclaim the Gospel which illuminates the steps
of believers.
This deep spiritual conviction guided the whole ecclesial mission of my
venerable Predecessor, the Servant of God Paul VI, who returned to the
Father’s house precisely on the Feast of the Transfiguration, 21 years ago
now. In the reflection he had planned to give at the Angelus on that day,
6 August 1978, he said: ‘The Transfiguration of the Lord, recalled by the
liturgy of today’s solemnity throws a dazzling light on our daily life,
and makes us turn our mind to the immortal destiny which that fact
foreshadows’. Yes! Paul VI reminds us: we are made for eternity and eternity begins at
this very moment, since the Lord is among us and lives with and in his
Church.  (August 6, 1999)

Today’s liturgy invites us to turn our gaze to the face of the Son of
God who, as the Synoptics unanimously attest, is transfigured on the
mountain before Peter, James and John, while the Father’s voice
proclaims from the cloud:  “This is my beloved Son; listen to him”
(Mk 9: 7). St Peter will recall the event with emotion, saying: 
“We were eye witnesseses of his majesty” (2 Pt 1: 16).

In our era, pervaded by the so-called “image culture”, the desire to be
able fill one’s eyes with the figure of the divine Master becomes more
intense, but it is appropriate to recall his words:  “Blessed are those
who have not seen and yet believe”
(Jn 20: 29). It was precisely with his eyes of faith fixed on the
adorable face of Christ, true man and true God, that the revered and
unforgettable Paul VI lived. Contemplating him with burning and
impassioned love, he said:  “Christ is beauty, human and divine beauty,
the beauty of reality, of truth, of life” (General Audience,
13 January 1971; L’Osservatore Romano English edition, 21
January 1971, p. 12). And he added:  “The figure of Christ presents,
over and above the charm of his merciful gentleness, an aspect which is
grave and strong, formidable, if you like, when dealing with cowardice,
hypocrisy, injustice and cruelty, but never lacking a sovereign aura of
love” (General Audience, 27 January 1971; L’Osservatore Romano English edition, 4 February 1971, p. 12).

As we approach the altar with grateful hearts, praying for the blessed
soul of this great Pontiff, we also wish, like him and like the
disciples, to turn our gaze to the radiant face of the Son of God to be
illumined by it. Let us ask God, through the intercession of Mary,
Teacher of faith and contemplation, to enable us to receive within us
the light that shines brightly on the face of Christ, so that we may
reflect its image on everyone we meet.

(Aug 6 2000)

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1 Comment
  1. Indeed! "that we may reflect His image." How beautifully put and how much we need that reminder. As Pope Benedict constantly reminds us – Joy! The Christian owes God and his fellow beings the very real sense of Joy that can only come from our Lord. This is often hard to remember, to the point that if we do not pray for this, we can become habituated to the mournful at worse, distracted at best, without even being aware we have failed to reflect His image. "Let us rejoice and be glad."

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