Sacred Heart

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Imlay City, Michigan  Tel: (810) 724-1135

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Homily
Fr. Paul Ward

 

Sat., & Sun., March 11 & 12, 2017
2nd Sunday of Lent, A

 

 

Transfiguration: Preparation for the Resurrection

 

   On the second Sunday of Lent, the Church always stops to meditate on the Transfiguration of our Lord. And so will we today. Let us put aside some topics we have been working on all year: the 100th year of Fatima, the 500th year of the Protestant revolt, and our daily Mass meditations on the books of Maccabees: themes to which we will return in due time, more refreshed.

   Before entering into the cloud on Tabor, let’s just keep a handle on the matters of parish life. [Parish mission. Stations. Fish fries. Works of charity, esp. SVdP. Trailblazers. Mini-retreats on 18th and 25th and 1st. Altar boy rehearsals. Exams for the sacraments will start soon.]

   The Transfiguration is not an easy mystery for meditation. But it comes up twice in the liturgy, once now, and once in August, and is part of the luminous mysteries, so we bump into it again and again. I have proposed meditations in the past upon the Transfiguration highlighting various aspects, for example, how it is related to some parts of the Mass, the aspect of the “exodus” of Jesus as mentioned in Luke, and more recently at the weekday Masses we saw how Judas Maccabeus had something like a Transfiguration experience shortly before his own death. Notice also that both today and Aug. 6 have their own prefaces, which also provide material for meditation.

   For today, I wish to underscore how the Transfiguration was a preparation for the resurrection of Christ, and from such a brief and simple meditation, we can all cultivate the spirit of hope.

   We begin with the cloud. The cloud in scripture is seen as a sign of the presence of God. There was the cloud of smoke on Sinai when God descended upon it to give the law to Moses. When Solomon consecrated the temple, there was great and unexplainable smoke so that the priests had to rush out of the temple. Something similar happened at the reconsecration of the temple in the Maccabees. These are a sampling of episodes in the scriptures where God’s presence is indicated by a cloud – a cloud in which a thing cannot be seen, an instrument of mystery, a cloak of holy unknowing.

   From this cloud the voice of the Father came to all men, proclaiming, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”  This happened before in Christ’s life, namely, at his baptism. So we see a parallel: as the baptism was the event launching him into his public life, now the Transfiguration is the event launching him into his passion, death and resurrection. It is for this reason, I think, the holy Church has put this feast early in Lent, so we can go from Mt. Tabor to Mt. Calvary with Jesus during these days.

   And then Christ’s body was filled with light. It was glorified, like his body would be at the resurrection. Both Christ and the three Apostles would be strengthened, therefore, through the suffering and death, so as to press on with hope to the glory that awaited the Lord on Easter Sunday.

   In this light, we can find further sense of Peter’s words. “Let us build three tents.” Tents are for those who are on pilgrimage, like the Israelites for forty years in the desert. The Gospel of John opens saying that Jesus “pitched his tent among us,” his tent being his own flesh, mortal and finite. But when Christ becomes resurrected, his flesh will become immortal and glorified. Therefore, while Peter is looking at the holy Moses and Elijah, and our Lord filled with light and glory, he is looking at the end result, and not at the present situation. The end result is the resurrection in heaven, both for Jesus and for all the saints, and heaven is no longer a place of pilgrimage, as is earth. Therefore, tents, the housing of pilgrimage, are not proportionate to the state of glory that Moses, Elijah and the Lord are currently manifesting.

   As we press on during Lent, let us not get too bogged down and disheartened by how hard the spiritual exercises can be on our poor, sinful flesh. Rather, let us take heart, lift up our spirit, and keep in mind the prize, goal and rewards of our efforts, namely: eternal life in heaven forever, with the Trinity, Mary, Joseph and all the angels and saints. Amen.


 
 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Compendium of Social Doctrine of the Church, from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Librevia Editrice Vaticana

 

Vatican Website

 

 

 
 

 

 

Archives of Homilies on Elijah during Lent 2016

Online FlipBook

 

 

 
 

 

 
 

Archives of Homilies on the New English Translation