Saturday, 7 March 2009

Meeting God in a Beautiful Woman

Louise was beautiful! Not in the traditional sense of being young and attractive. Such beauty does, in deed, reflect something of the beauty of God, and is a delight to behold. But Louise was not like that. She did not have the beauty of a young woman. In fact she was frail and over ninety years old. Her face was as wrinkled as a ploughed field.

But when she laughed and smiled her appearance was transformed. With a twinkle in her eye, she radiated a joy, which was infectious. Her happiness made her beautiful. It was, indeed, good to be with this lovely woman, this dear friend. My life was enriched by being with her, and seeing her smile.

This transformation in Louise has helped me to understanding something of another change in appearance –that of Jesus in the Transfiguration of Christ. Until that moment he looked much like any other man. But on the mountain his appearance changed, while he remained the same person. There, he revealed something of his glory as the Son of God. His body, and even his clothes, radiated something of his divine glory. Until then, that had remained hidden.

It’s not surprising that Peter should have said, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here’ –just as I wanted to remain with the beautiful, elderly Louise, transformed by her lovely smile.

In the transfiguration Jesus revealed something of his glory, for several reasons. He wanted to strengthen the disciples’ faith, in preparation for the time when his appearance would be changed in a very different way –in the horror of his Passion. While the Transfiguration gave a glimpse of his divine majesty, in his Passion he would appear a broken failure, despised and rejected. Then he would almost seem to be less than human.

Christ’s transfiguration served another purpose, giving the disciples and us a hint of the full glory, which would be his when he rose from the dead.

But my reflections took me further. The transfiguration of Christ gives us a hint of the glory, which will be ours, when we rise from the dead to share in the glory of the risen Christ. Then we, too, will be transformed, as we radiate his glory, while remaining the same people as we are today. We need to cling onto that hope when life is rough and we, too, have to carry our particular crosses.

As I think of my friend, Louise, who is now dead, I thank her for her smile, revealing to me something of the meaning of Christ’s Transfiguration, the glory of his resurrections, which we hope to share. Her smile gave me a glimpse of the joy and happiness of heaven. It will be good, very good to be there for all eternity. In the smiling Louise, I had, indeed, been given a hint of what it means to enjoy God’s company, and how he can transform our lives. And I look forward to again meeting the beautiful, smiling Louse in the Communion of Saints.

Your smile and mine can help others to discover something of the glory of God. Louise certainly helped me.

Isidore Clarke O.P.


  1. I was delighted to meet Louise in your dazzling description of her smile. I instantly remembered my sister, Pat, now gone back to the Father. She too had a lovely smile which seemed to make her wrinkles disappear completely. I think it's God's light within us which makes our eyes sparkle and twinkle in spite of our withered appearance. Thanks a lot. Loved your article.
    best wishes, Rose Ann

  2. This strory reminds me of Father Gilbert. I will never forget his radiant smile, warm greetings and his sense of humour. He is one in a million! It's a blessings to know caring people. Those who touch our lives not just by their inspiring lifestyles or the support they give us, but their warm personalities. Let's allow God to shine through us -- our facial expressions, warm greetings and acts of kindness.