Life & Soul

Omnium Gatherum

On the next Sunday of our normally green summer season, Holy Mother Church vests in her white and gold for the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.

Our Saviour took Peter, James and John to a high mountain, where they were surrounded by a bright cloud. Christ, flanked by Moses and Elijah, then shone with light so dazzling that it was hard to see. A voice was heard, as at the time of Jesus’s Baptism: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) expand the event saying “his face did shine as the sun: and his garments became white as snow” – or “as light”, according to the Greek text. This brightness has been taken to be a glimpse of Christ’s divinity shining through His flesh. Christ allowed these key Apostles just a peep, a tiny sip of his glory in order to strengthen them for the crushing of His upcoming Passion.

Judging from their reaction to the barest hint of the Lord’s splendour, Peter and the others were struck with something like a spiritual inebriation. Mark 9:6 says that Peter blurted out what he did because “he did not know what to say”.

Speaking of inebriation, it could be that Peter’s state, provoked by the glory of the Lord, is part of the reason why, on this feast, we Catholics traditionally have a blessing of grapes. Find it online. It’s in the traditional Rituale Romanum.

Grapes are an eschatological symbol, for they are the fruit of a long-prepared – and by no means certain – harvest. The blessing invokes images of the dew of heaven, abundant rain and calm fair weather, which we hope for in this life, but we don’t always get, and which we long for in the next life – that place of refreshment and peace.

Take grapes to Father for the blessing (look it up, print it, take it along). When later you eat them, I hope with friends, think of God’s lovely gifts, granted gratuitously according to His seasons and reasons.

Consider that graces come also from the bitter grapes of life. Remember that droughts and frosts and even moulds work their incomparable magic on the fruits of the vine of your life to produce depth, intensity of bouquet and flavour when lovingly crushed, aged and tended by the Master Winemaker.