FR. TOM'S HOMILY FOR THE 2nd SUNDAY OF LENT, March 13, 2022:
I always say that I am a well-named Thomas – a doubter. Especially in my teens and early 20s, I really struggled with faith. I wanted to believe more than anything in the world, but that gift had just not been given to me. And then, around 21 years old, I began feeling drawn to the Mass, drawn specifically to the Eucharist. And, I will never forget one particular Sunday. There was nothing different about this Mass, it was the same as every other week. But, when the priest said, “Take this, all of you, and eat of it…This is My Body. Take this and drink…This is the chalice of My Blood.” – it was though it was the first time I had ever heard them. In that moment, these were words that I knew were true in my heart. I knew that that Jesus was real; that He was present before me; that He was transfigured in my sight – bread into Body; wine into Blood. After I received Holy Communion that day, I could feel the presence of Jesus in me in a real way. My life has not been the same since.
Today, a similarly amazing story unfolds in our Gospel. Jesus “was transfigured before them; his clothes became dazzling white.” Imagine that scene for a moment. Imagine what must it have been like for the disciples to see something so incredible – Jesus is transfigured, glorified, wrapped in the mantle of God’s wonder – all in the sight of three simple fishermen, Peter, James and John. For them, this moment would be a defining moment in their lives. Up until now, they had seen Jesus in normal, everyday ways. He had not yet revealed His divinity. But, in this moment they saw Jesus in a new and spectacular way; they experienced this miraculous presence of Moses and Elijah. They heard the voice of God echoing from Heaven, “This is my beloved son. Listen to him.” From this moment, they began to see Jesus in a new light. From this moment, everything in their lives changed.
And, it was an experience they would never forget. We know this because St. Peter tells us in his second letter, “We were there,” he says, “when he was given honor and glory by the Father, when the voice came to him from the Supreme Glory, saying, ‘This is my own dear Son, with whom I am pleased!’ We ourselves heard this voice coming from heaven, when we were with him on the holy mountain.” St. Peter wrote those words 35 years after the resurrection; shortly before he would also be crucified. He remembered that moment for the rest of his life.
Today, as we recall the transfiguration of Jesus, it is not a moment of mere historical memory. It is instead a moment of invitation. We have been singing our meditation during Lent, “Transfigure us O, Lord. Break the chains that bind us. Speak your healing word.” Jesus invites us to experience transfiguration in our own lives; to have had moments when, even for a split second, we seem to glimpse a reality beyond this one. Those moments when for an instant we see beyond the ordinary to something extraordinary - God’s true presence in our midst. A presence that has the power to heal us, free us, mold and shape us. If you are open, perhaps today is your moment of Transfiguration. Perhaps nothing will be the same for you after today.
The Eucharist we gather for every week is the preeminent experience of transfiguration. We gather around this table and present mere bread and wine. And just as amazingly as on that mountain, it is transformed in our midst; transfigured into the living presence of God. We begin with elements that are common, ordinary, mundane. We end up with something heavenly, extraordinary and miraculous. It is as if the voice of God says to us, “This bread and this wine are my beloved Son. Listen to Him. Let Him speak to your weary hearts words of love and compassion.”
The challenge, of course, is to live with an openness that believes that God can be transfigured in our midst today, just as He was then. It is an invitation to not close our selves off from the heavenly, from the miraculous, from the holy, because the reality is that Jesus is constantly revealing Himself to us. When our eyes our opened we can see that we live in a near constant state of Transfiguration – that Jesus reveals Himself to us in countless ways every day. He invites us to climb that mountain of transfiguration with Him and experience something of His divine glory.
And if the altar is a place of transfiguration for us; so too is the Confessional. If we have the courage to step into that confessional and lay our sins before God, we too will become dazzling white as our sins are lifted. In that moment Jesus wants to lift off our burdens, take away our struggles, instill in us the beauty of His grace. Jesus wants to restore us to holiness. Imagine that. Imagine letting this thought settle in your heart and take root – I am holy. I am holy. I am without sin. I am free. In the confessional, we hear the voice of God who speaks the most incredible words to us. He says, “Your sins are forgiven.” In the confessional, we are transformed, transfigured by that Grace. In that moment, we are once again renewed as God’s beloved daughters, beloved sons, with whom God is well pleased.
My friends, Jesus takes us up that mountain of transfiguration with Him once again today and invites us to recognize His presence in our midst. But, it isn’t just Jesus who becomes transformed and transfigured. We see how transfiguration changed St. Peter’s life forever; how it changed my life forever. God is inviting us to become transfigured too and change our lives forever. Will this be the moment?
My friends, let us open our hearts to experience transfiguration together. Jesus is calling us all leave the ordinary behind and ascend the holy mountain. He wants to take us up to be with Him as he did with Peter, James and John. And here, in this moment, Jesus reveals Himself to us if we only open our eyes. He wants to forgive our sins and set us free. Let us see Jesus made new before us and become once again the luminous beings that these encounters makes us.
“Transfigure us O, Lord. Break the chains that bind us. Speak your healing word.”
May the Lord give you peace.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.