Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Transfiguration Behind These Stone Walls

Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration.  It commemorates the day that Jesus took three of His disciples up on the mountain, believed to be Mount Tabor, and there, in an instant, was revealed in all His Glory before them, or at least as much as they could stand to see and live.

This happened just days after He had said to His disciples that: "There are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God."

Transfiguration means a change in form or appearance, or a metamorphosis.  Metamorphosis means a major change in the appearance or character of someone or something.

In fact, we are all called to change our form or appearance, to be conformed to Christ in us.  Where Christ in His Transfiguration was actually changed and it was visibly obvious to the three disciples present, our transfiguration is more like a very slow metamorphosis and as that, might not be as obvious to those around us, as that of Christ was.

But, if we look with the eyes of faith, we can see the transfiguration or metamorphosis of people of faith all around us, as they seek to conform or accept being conformed into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ.

We are created in the Image of God, and so except for the presence of sin in our lives we should be able to see the Kingdom of God present in each other, because we are told and we believe that the Kingdom of God is at hand.

So, it seems appropriate to me at least, that on the Feast of the Transfiguration, we are reminded of how a couple of men have been transfigured, though that transfiguration is not complete yet, maybe not as dramatically as Jesus was on the mountain, but changed from the inside out none the less.

Around this time five years ago, Father Gordon MacRae, a priest, wrongly imprisoned in New Hampshire for sexual abuse that was contrived by a supposed victim to separate the Catholic Church from some of its money began writing the blog that is known as "These Stone Walls."

I did not see the beginning of this blog, but came across it about a year later.  So, though I missed the beginning, I have not missed the point, I hope.  In the 4+ years that I have followed These Stone Walls, I have seen the transfiguration of Father Gordon MacRae, and his trusty sidekick Pornchai Moontri, as they have chosen to grow closer to Jesus Christ.

Noting their Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I have followed their lead, not because I am a sheep, particularly, but because I believe in it, and needed only a little prodding from brothers I have never met to take the step myself.

The Father Gordon MacRae who began this literary part of his own journey of faith is not the Father Gordon MacRae you read today, nor is Pornchai the same.  Both have been transfigured, and readers are the better for it, since we have before us a priest being a priest of God under very difficult circumstances, and a young man as his compatriot, who has fallen in love with our Lord and Saviour.

Father Gordon should never have been in jail, since he did nothing wrong, at least not in a legal sense.  But, I think that he, knowing that he is a sinner in need of the grace of God, knows like all of us, if we would be honest with ourselves and with our God, that our sin is so grave that we, in fact, deserve whatever befalls us, and that life is not fair, because the author of life has a plan bigger than our own personal comfort.

Pornchai, on the other hand might in some sense deserve to be in prison for crimes he committed, but there again, there is more to it than that.  Having read his story, I know that in the circumstances that I have read he was in, bearing in mind that whatever has been written is merely the tip of the iceberg, I might have done exactly what he did.  As well, I would likely have had the same feelings of abandonment, anger and hatred towards those who betrayed me.

But God conspired to use the evil around them to bring them together for His greater Glory, and so with their cooperation he is transfiguring them into His own Image and likeness.

Christ was and is perfect, so His Transfiguration could happen in a fraction of a second.  We, unlike him carry the stain of original sin, and of our own sin, and so ultimately transfiguration for us is a lifelong journey. But transfiguration happens in us more rapidly when we are committed to God's plan for our lives, and when we do not let the stone walls in our lives keep us from the love of God for us, and which we are to share with our brothers and sisters.

Father Gordon and Pornchai have committed to do God's will in a most unlikely venue, and that both blesses all who read These Stone Walls, and also encourages us, who most often are in better circumstances to amend our lives and conform ourselves to God's plan for each of us.

If Father Gordon and Pornchai can tear down the figurative stone walls that surround them, even in the midst of literal stone walls, can we not do the same?  The stone walls in our individual lives, disease, unemployment, poverty, woundedness in our relationships are very real, but must they possess us, or can we take the example of Father Gordon and Pornchai to heart, and accept these trials as part of God's plan for our own transfiguration?

Pray for Father Gordon and for Pornchai that they will be faithful to the calling that God has put on their lives, but pray also that they will be an example to us of what faithfulness to God looks like, that we might follow their example.


Fr Gordon J. MacRae said...

Once again, Michael Brandon has cast a bright light into a dark corner of the world to illuminate something most Catholics would prefer not to see. I don't think I can ever again look upon the Transfiguration of our Lord the same old way after reading Michael's brilliant analogy. Only someone who has imitated our Blessed Mother's "Fiat" to God could see this story as he does, and I am blessed for having read it - and especially blessed for being a part of it!

With Divine Mercy blessings,
Father Gordon J. MacRae

Jeannie Diemer said...

Thank you for this article! I will share it in hopes that more will learn of Father Gordon and what he has been able to do by the grace of God in such impossible circumstances. We are blessed to have him in our lives and to be drawn to his Christlike faith and example.

Michael Brandon said...


You are so correct. The more that Father Gordon submits himself to Our Blessed Mother's motherhood of him, the more he is transfigured into the image of her Son, Our Lord and Saviour. And yet, it is all by grace. God's love for us is marvelous, and how Mary fits into that plan of His is beyond our ability to grasp, but not beyond our ability to submit to.