I recently came across this story – probably happened around the late 80’s or early 90’s. NASA did some experimenting with a special type of camera that could see the energy levels in the human body. This is then seen on a monitor. This energy shows up as an aura around the body. NASA’s interest in the experiment was to investigate the effects of space travel on astronauts in orbit. Experimenting in a hospital they discovered that when a person is dying, the aura around the body is thinner and gets thinner and thinner until the person dies. The scientist carrying out this investigation in the hospital and his associate were behind a two-way mirror. They could see with their camera another man coming into the room with light coming from his pocket. Then the man took the object from his pocket and did something so that in the camera the whole room was filled with light and with their camera they could no longer see what was happening. They ran to the room to see what was causing so much light to appear in their camera. They discovered that the dying man was being given Holy Communion. Afterwards with their camera they could see that the aura around him was brighter. Although in his fifties, the scientist conducting the experiment decided to become a priest after witnessing that phenomenon.
If we are tempted to think that there isn’t something powerful in the Holy Eucharist, think again. If we are tempted to think that miracles don’t happen through Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, think again. If we are tempted to think that Jesus isn’t present among us – think again. If we are tempted to think that we are not transformed by this, that the Eucharist has no real effect – that this is just a symbol… Think again.
The Greek term used to describe the transfiguration of Jesus is ‘metamorphothe’ – ‘metamorphosis’… meaning: a change in nature – by natural or supernatural means. Jesus was transformed… changed … into what? The event of transfiguration while still in His human nature was glimpse of the reality of His divinity… Jesus showed them His identity. St. Matthew tells us that His face shined like the sun… have you ever looked at the sun? It is rather blinding, right? That is how bright He became… Like a light that fills a room – or that of a soul…
Jesus not only showed these three privileged Apostles a glimpse of His divinity… He showed them who they could become in Him. He showed them what Communion with Him looks like… dazzling, otherworldly… miraculous… This is the reality of the Eucharist in our midst. This is our ‘transfiguration’ moment … our metamorphosis happens when we fill ourselves with God and empty ourselves of things that are unholy, ungodlike – particularly in Confession… and then when we come to receive Him in Holy Communion, it is there that He enacts the change, there He fills us with His very self, there in that singular moment He transfigures us into the men and women we are created to be… most perfectly ourselves – the closest we can get to being united to Him this side of eternity. Our task then is to never let the light go dim… This is what the disciplines of Lent teach us – they are lessons in trust and virtue, they teach us how to open our hearts to a deeper love for God … they keep the flame of faith burning brightly… During these next few weeks, don’t let the light go dim… so that it stays lit – a light so bright that it cannot help but fill a room, no matter where we go or who we meet.