I never had a Transformer toy when I was a kid. I spent some time playing with the ones my nephews had, though. Some of them were easier to “transform” than others. I remember watching some of the cartoons. I liked the Transformers movies pretty well. The mechanically inclined part of me always thought is was cool the way all those parts shifted around to create new machines with different appearances. Appearance is generally what we think about when we hear the word “transformation,” like a magician changing a rabbit into a dove or something. It’s different because it looks different.
A friend of mine shared with me how happy she was that her son had recently accepted Christ and was going to be baptized. I rejoiced with her. There is nothing better than eternal life. After all, finding eternal life is what this present life is all about. The next time I laid eyes on her son I saw a Christian where previously there was no Christian. But, he looked like the same person. He may have had a different expression on his face. Maybe he got a haircut. He may have been making better choices in his life. He may have shown more joy than he used to, but I still recognized him as being my friend’s son, even though he had been “transformed.”
2 Corinthians 5:17 reads, “Therefore, if any man be in Christ he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” He is a “new creature?” Some translations use the words “new creation.” Wow! That is a major transformation! In other words, what he “is” is not what he “was.” But, to the human eye he still looks like the same person. In fact, I would bet that, if looked at under an electron microscope, his skin, blood and bone cells would look like regular human cells. He would still smell the same after a hard day’s work. He would still taste like a man to any dog that bit him. His vocal chords would still produce the same voice that his friends and family recognize. And yet, he is “a new creature?” That’s a more impressive transformation than Optimus Prime! This must be some kind of supernatural process that changes the substance of something without changing the appearance of it.
I have yet to meet a Christian (Catholic or non-Catholic) that has a problem accepting Paul’s words “he is a new creature/creation.” However, I have met numerous Christians that have a problem accepting the words of Jesus, “this is my body, this is my blood.” Why do we take Paul at his word but dismiss the words of Christ? Why can we so easily accept that we are transformed when we are saved but hardly accept that God transforms bread and wine? Does Paul’s “is” have more power than Christ’s “is?”
We are transformed by Christ and made into new creatures, even though our outward appearance remains the same. Bread and wine are transformed by Christ into himself, even though their outward appearance remains the same. Both require faith in Christ to believe. That which “is” is not what it “was,” even though it still looks the same. This is the stuff of miracle, not metaphor. The Spirit gives real, eternal life through faith, not symbols that we can only regard with “the flesh” of our mind and our senses (See John 6:63, 8:15). Contrast what Jesus calls “the flesh” with what he calls “my flesh which I will give for the life of the world.” (John 6:51)
There is nothing better than eternal life. Jesus said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:54) At the Catholic Mass, the bread and wine looks, feels, sounds, smells and tastes just like bread and wine, but it is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ. Jesus instituted the Catholic Mass at The Last Supper (Mark 14:22-24). Christ’s transforming words still have the same power today.
Do we believe we are transformed into new creatures? Why not believe the bread and wine are transformed into our Lord? Lord, I believe; help my unbelief (Mark 9:23-24).
(This reflection was inspired by this post by Stacy Trasancos)