11 Mar Second Sunday in Lent
Homilies are never the creative act of one person. Thus, in posting this homily on St. Mary’s Cathedral’s website I would like to state first and foremost that there will be little original in the following. My homilies are a result of my prayer, reading and study as it pertains to the particular gospel of the week. Thus, I beg, borrow and steal from the wisdom of those who have gone before me and together with the Holy Spirit acting in my own prayer considering the needs of our particular parish community here at St. Mary’s, a homily appears by the weekend. If there is something that edifies you I can take no credit for it: ‘tis the result of the work of the Holy Spirit and those from whom I have gleaned wisdom over time. If there is something that you might wish to discuss I am always available and would welcome any opportunity to speak about the Scriptures and/or the Spiritual Life.
God bless you.
Homily: Second Sunday in Lent, March 8, 2020
What a scene? Jesus’ physical appearance changes such that His face shone like the sun.
Imagine being up on Mount Tabor with Peter, James and John?
Imagine experiencing Jesus appearing in all his heavenly glory. Imagine hearing the Voice of the Father! Imagine how they must have been in awe!
Imagine the revered Giver of the Law Moses and the Prophet Elijah alive in Glory with him. Here in this scene of transfiguration they are both alive in Glory with Jesus. Dramatically demonstrating that Jesus, the Christ, is the fulfillment of all the Old Testament.
In the gospel today Jesus’s face shines brightly as does his clothing and all his being…he Father’s voice is heard. “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” In Jesus something greater than Moses is here…Something greater than Elijah. Moses and Elijah reflected the Father’s Glory. In the Transfiguration Jesus’ face, the Son of God’s whole being, shines with His Own Glory. Jesus reveals his true identity…He is the divine Son of the Father…Jesus gives Peter, James and John an opportunity to see his Glory in order to prepare them for the supreme trial of their faith when they will see the Master betrayed, arrested, condemned and crucified.
The Transfiguration reveals the Son of God in all His divine splendour and says to these three…remember this when darkness comes, when the Son of God will suffer and be killed on the hill of Calvary. Remember the Glory when all else seems to be in darkness. In many ways he is saying the two are equal…My Glory will fully be seen in my self-sacrificial love on the Cross and in my Resurrection.
What does this mean for us?
Jesus’ Transfiguration reveals to Peter, and to James and John and to us the goal. The target. We pray something very beautiful at every funeral: To God the Father we say: “To all who were pleasing to you at their passing from this life, give kind admittance to your Kingdom. There we hope to enjoy for ever the fullness of your glory, when you will wipe away every tear from our eyes. For seeing you, our God, as you are, we shall be like you for all the ages.” To all who are pleasing to God at their death…we won’t be God, but we will be like God for all the ages. This is the promise. This is the target, the goal of all our lives.
But how do we get so that we will be transfigured?
In the verses of Matthews’s gospel just before the Transfiguration Jesus tells his disciples: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life?” Matthew 16:24-26
Take up your cross and follow me. This is the route to Glory. In His Suffering and Dying on the Cross Jesus modelled the route to Glory.
How do we do this? We do this by embracing the crosses of our lives.
Recently I was reading a very interesting book by Dan Burke on Spiritual Warfare and the Discernment of Spirits. He highlights four foundational truths that lead to the path of healing and peace.
These are simple foundational truths…You all know them…The key question is…do you do them?
The first foundational truth is that we must have an authentic yes in our heart to God. We must have an authentic relationship with God. It is not enough merely to know about God or even to practice our faith. – we must know Him intimately. We must be constantly aware of our need for God and therefore for the conversion of our lives that will draw us ever more closely to Him. Our trust and confidence in God must inform our every thought, word and action…and reaction.
The second foundational element and what most supports our yes of the heart to God consists of two sacraments, the Eucharist and regular Confession. Dan Burke says Confession once every two weeks. I would say at least once a month. The Church has always taught it is a mortal sin to miss Mass on Sunday. We need the Eucharist. So we can’t miss it. The Eucharist is the most powerful sustenance of our Faith and we should participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as frequently as possible. Daily if possible…daily Mass is a very good habit to implement during Lent if at all possible.
We absolutely need the Sacrament of Reconciliation/Confession to support our yes. I need it first and foremost. We all need it. Not only is it a remedy for sin, but it is a great grace to strengthen us in our efforts in fighting sin when we cooperate with it. If we are not reconciled with God and not living in a state of grace we are cut off from the life of grace and will not be able to properly discern the difference between the inspirations and influence of God and the temptations and false lies of the Devil. Living in a state of grace means that we have no unconfessed mortal sins and we are following the teachings of the Church. If we do have unconfessed mortal sins or are not following the teachings of the Church we must go to confession before receiving the Eucharist. If we have unconfessed mortal sins on our soul we cannot benefit from the Grace of the Eucharist without Confession. That is why the Lord gave it to us. He wants us to receive the Eucharist worthily.
The third foundational element is daily prayer. The most powerful daily prayers are twofold: mental prayer and the Rosary. Mental prayer is taking some reading…Either the Scriptures or some spiritual reading and then contemplating it at the core of our being before the Father. Our Blessed Mother has revealed the Rosary is necessary both for our salvation and that of the world.
The fourth foundational element is ascetical practices such as the ones we have undertaken in Lent…ascetical practices are…daily…intentional…that is deliberate…efforts away from sin and selfishness and toward self-giving to God and our neighbour…our prayer…our fasting and other penances…and our almsgiving
Is transfiguration possible? Is becoming a saint possible? I think many of us think it is not. But if we follow these simple four foundational elements…Not only know them…But actually, do them…we will be well on the way to holiness.
- An authentic yes in our heart for God.
- The Eucharist on Sunday and more often if possible.
- Regular monthly confession.
- Mental prayer: reading the Sunday Scriptures or the Daily Scriptures and spending at least 10 minutes, or more, prayerfully mulling them over before the Lord.
- The Rosary.
- And finally taking on regular self-sacrificial ascetical practices: spending some time in prayer…some form of fasting and almsgiving…self sacrificially giving of your time, your talents and your treasure
Jesus’ Transfiguration was to reveal to the disciples how he would be in Glory. If we follow this simple path we can be sure that…According to that beautiful prayer we pray at funerals…we will be pleasing to Him at the time of our death…we will be admitted to His Kingdom…and there enjoy forever the fullness of His glory…seeing Him, Our God, as He is,…And being like Him for all the ages.
Transfiguration is the goal. Transfiguration is the target…At the moment of our death hearing the words spoken by the Father to Jesus spoken to each one of us. “This is my son/this is my daughter, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”