18 [A] (Aug 6,2023) Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord- 8-minute homily in 1 page
OT 18 [A] (Aug 6,2023) Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord- 8-minute homily in 1 page
Introduction: The common theme of today’s readings is the metamorphosis or transformation of Christ by the empowering of God the Father Who sent His Son as our Savior and Redeemer. Today’s Gospel, describing Christ’s Transfiguration, challenges us to revitalize our Faith as true disciples of Christ, just as the passages from Daniel and II Peter were written to strengthen the Faith of their audiences in times of persecution.
Scripture lessons: The first reading, taken from the Book of Daniel, spreads out before us Daniel’s vision of God’s glorious Heavenly Court of Judgment. The Transfiguration is a prefiguring of Christ’s glorification by God the Father in the Court of Heaven after Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven. In the second reading, St. Peter argues, in his Second Letter to the Church, that the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ (at which the voice of God the Father was heard by the three apostles, verses 16-18), and the testimony of the Old Testament prophets (in the Messianic prophecies), are the guarantee of the doctrine of Christ's Second Coming. In the Transfiguration account in today’s Gospel, Jesus is revealed as a glorious figure, superior to Moses and Elijah. The primary purpose of Jesus’ Transfiguration was to allow Jesus to consult his Heavenly Father in order to ascertain His plan for His Son’s suffering, death and Resurrection. The secondary aim was to make his chosen disciples aware of Jesus’ Divine glory, so that they might discard their worldly ambitions and dreams of a conquering political Messiah and might be strengthened in their time of trial. On the mountain, Jesus is identified by the Heavenly Voice as the Son of God. Thus, the Transfiguration narrative is a Christophany, that is, a manifestation or revelation of Who Jesus really IS. Describing Jesus’ Transfiguration, the Gospel gives us a glimpse of the Heavenly glory awaiting those who do God’s will by putting their trusting Faith in Him.
Life messages: (1) The changing of bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus by transubstantiation in the Holy Mass, is the source of our strength. Just as the Transfiguration of Jesus strengthened the Apostles in their time of trial, each Holy Mass should be our source of Heavenly strength against our own temptations and our chief source for the renewal of our lives. In addition, communion with Jesus in prayer and especially in the Eucharist should be a source of daily transformation of both our minds and hearts, enabling us to love and serve Jesus in every one of our brothers and sisters with whom we come in contact each day. (2) Each Sacrament that we receive transforms us. Baptism, for example, transforms us into sons and daughters of God and heirs of Heaven. Confirmation makes us the temples of the Holy Spirit. By approaching the Sacrament of Reconciliation when we recognize, repenting, that we have sinned, God brings us back to the path of holiness. By receiving in Faith, the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, we are spiritually, and sometimes physically, healed, and our sins are forgiven. (3) The Transfiguration offers us a message of hope and encouragement. In moments of doubt, pain and suffering, disappointment and despair, we need mountain-top experiences that we may reach out to God and listen to His consoling words: “This is my beloved son/daughter in whom I am well pleased.”
OT 18 [A] (Aug 6) Feast of the Transfiguration: Dn 7:9-10, 13-14; ; II Pt 1:16-19; Mt 17:1-9
Homily starter anecdotes: # 1: “O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.” There is a mysterious story in 2 Kings that can help us understand what is happening in the Transfiguration. Israel is at war with Aram, and Elisha, the man of God, is using his prophetic powers to reveal the strategic plans of the Aramean army to the Israelites. At first the King of Aram thinks that one of his officers is playing the spy, but when he learns the truth, he dispatches troops to go and capture Elisha who is residing in Dothan. The Aramean troops move in under cover of darkness and surround the city. In the morning, Elisha’s servant is the first to discover that they are surrounded, and he fears for his master’s, and his own, safety. He runs to Elisha and says, “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” The prophet answers “Don't be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” But who would believe that when the surrounding mountainside is covered with advancing enemy troops? So Elisha prays, “O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the Lord opens the servant's eyes, and he looks and sees the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha (2 Kings 6:8-23). – This vision was all that Elisha’s disciple needed to reassure him. At the end of the story, not only were the prophet of God and his servant safe, but the invading army was totally humiliated. (Fr. Munacci) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
# 2: “Lord, give me the grace for transformation.” The word transfiguration means a change in form or appearance. Biologists call it metamorphosis (derived from the Greek word metamorphoomai used in Matthew’s Gospel), to describe the change that occurs when a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. As children, we might have curiously watched the process of the caterpillar turning into a chrysalis and then bursting into a beautiful Monarch butterfly. Fr. Anthony De Mello, SJ, tells the story of such a metamorphosis in the prayer life of an old man. “I was a revolutionary when I was young, and all my prayer to God was: ‘Lord, give me the grace to change the world.’ As I approached middle age and realized that half of my life was gone without changing a single soul, I changed my prayer to: ‘Lord, give me the grace to change all those who come in contact with me; just my family and friends and I shall be satisfied.’ Now that I am old and my days are numbered, I have begun to see how foolish I have been. My one prayer now is: ’Lord, give me the grace to change myself.’ -- If I had prayed for this right from the start, I should not have wasted my life.” (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
# 3: Baby powder and Christian transformation: You might remember comedian Yakov Smirnoff. When he first came to the United States from Russia he was not prepared for the incredible variety of instant products available in American grocery stores. He says, "On my first shopping trip, I saw powdered milk; you just add water, and you get milk. Then I saw powdered orange juice; you just add water, and you get orange juice. And then I saw baby powder, and I told myself, ‘What a country!’" -- Smirnoff was joking, but we make these assumptions about Christian Transformation—that people change instantly from sinners to saints. Catholics call it transformation through repentance and renewal of life, deriving strength through the word of God and the Sacraments to cooperate with God’s grace for doing acts of charity. Some other Christian denominations call it Sanctification of the believer. Whatever you call it, most denominations expect some quick fix for sin. According to this belief, when someone gives his or her life to Christ, accepting Him as Lord and personal Savior, and confesses his or her sins to Him, there an immediate, substantive, in-depth, miraculous change in habits, attitudes, and character. Can we go to Church as if we are going to the grocery store to get Powdered Christian? The truth is that Disciples of Christ are not born by adding water to Christian powder. There is no such powder, and disciples of Jesus Christ are not instantly born. They are slowly raised through many trials, suffering, and temptations and by their active cooperation with the grace of God, expressed through works of charity. [Adapted from James Emery White, Rethinking the Church: A Challenge to Creative Redesign in an Age of Transition (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1997, 2003).] (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
Introduction: The Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus is celebrated by various Christian communities. The origins of the feast are less than certain and may have derived from the dedication of three basilicas on Mount Tabor. The feast was present in various forms by the 9th century, and in the Western Church was made a universal feast on 6 August by Pope Callixtus III to commemorate the July 22, 1456 raising of the on July 22, 1456, by the Crusaders who defeated the Turks. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Callixtus_III)
When the feast falls on a Sunday, as is the case in 2023, its liturgy is not combined with the Sunday liturgy (the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, this year), but completely replaces it. All three Synoptic Gospels tell the story of the Transfiguration (Mt 17:1-8; Mk 9:2-9; Lk 9:28-36). With remarkable agreement, all three place the event shortly after Peter’s confession of Faith that Jesus is the Messiah and Jesus’ first prediction of his passion and death. Peter’s eagerness to erect tents or booths on the spot suggests the event occurred during the Jewish week-long, fall Feast of Booths.
Scripture lessons: The common theme of today’s readings is metamorphosis or transformation of Christ by God the Father Who sent His Son as our Savior and Redeemer. Today’s Gospel describes Christ’s Transfiguration and challenges us to revitalize our Faith as true disciples of Christ, just as the passages from Daniel and II Peter were written to strengthen the Faith of their audiences in times of persecution. Through the feast of the Transfiguration, the Church both commemorates the event of the Lord’s Transfiguration and shows us the way to our own transfiguration.
The first reading, taken from the Book of Daniel, speads out before us Daniel’s vision of God’s glorious Heavenly Court of Judgment. The Transfiguration is a prefiguring of Christ’s glorification by God the Father in the Court of Heaven after Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven. In the second reading, St. Peter argues, in his Second Letter to the Church, that the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ (at which the voice of God the Father was heard by the three apostles, verses 16-18), and the testimony of the Old Testament prophets (in the Messianic prophecies) are the guarantee of the doctrine of Christ's Second Coming. In the Transfiguration account in today’s Gospel, Jesus is revealed as a glorious figure, superior to Moses and Elijah. The primary purpose of Jesus’ Transfiguration was to allow Jesus to consult his Heavenly Father in order to ascertain His plan for His Son’s suffering, death and Resurrection. The secondary aim was to make his chosen disciples aware of Jesus’ Divine glory, so that they might discard their worldly ambitions and dreams of a conquering political Messiah and might be strengthened in their time of trial. On the mountain, Jesus is identified by the Heavenly Voice as the Son of God. Thus, the Transfiguration event is a Christophany, that is, a manifestation or revelation of Who Jesus really is. Describing Jesus’ Transfiguration, the Gospel gives us a glimpse of the Heavenly glory awaiting those who do God’s will by putting their trusting Faith in Him.
First reading: (Dn 7:9-10, 13-14) explained: The first reading, taken from the Book of Daniel, presents before us Daniel’s vision of God’s glorious Heavenly Court of Judgment, where the devil is eternally punished and the ascended Jesus is glorified. God the Father is depicted as being seated on a throne in Heaven, His glory flashing out and angels all around. Judgment is about to take place; it will be followed by the execution of the sentence. Divine judgment is passed on the terrible beast representing the devil and the evil kingdoms controlled by him, and the devil is removed from power. Then God gives “dominion, glory and kingship” to the One like the “Son of man” (representing Jesus, the risen and ascended Messiah) “coming on the clouds of Heaven.” When the Church proclaims in the Creed that Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father, she is saying that it was to Christ that dominion was given. ”Being seated at the Father's right hand signifies the inauguration of the Messiah's kingdom, the fulfillment of the prophet Daniel's vision concerning the Son of Man: 'To him was given domination and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed' (Dn 7:14)” (CCC # 664). The mystery of the Transfiguration, then, is a manifestation, an unveiling, of the glory that the Son receives from the Father.
The second reading: II Peter 1:16-19 explained: In the second reading, St. Peter argues, in his Second Letter to the Church, that the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ (at which the voice of God the Father was heard by the three apostles: “This is My Beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased") and the testimony of the Old Testament prophets (in the Messianic prophecies) are the guarantee of the doctrine of Christ's Second Coming. The “prophetic word” refers to all Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament; these were fulfilled in Jesus in the New Testament. Just as the Transfiguration was not a myth, but a reality Peter witnessed, so the Second Coming of Jesus will be a reality for all mankind. The phrase Peter uses ("the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ"), sums up the purpose of apostolic preaching: "power" indicates that Jesus Christ is God and is Almighty like the Father; the "coming” (literally "Parousia") means the same as His manifestation in glory at the end of time. (Navarre Bible commentary). Peter’s argument is that if Jesus Christ allowed His Divinity to be glimpsed just for a moment, He will also be able to manifest it in its fullness and forever at the end of time.
Gospel exegesis: The objective and time of the Transfiguration: The primary purpose of Jesus’ Transfiguration was to consult his Heavenly Father in order to ascertain His plan for Our Lord’s suffering, death and Resurrection. The secondary aim was to make Jesus’ chosen disciples aware of His Divine glory, so that they might discard their worldly ambitions about a conquering political Messiah. A third purpose was to strengthen their Faith and hope and to encourage them to persevere through the future ordeal. The Transfiguration took place in late summer, probably in AD 29, just prior to the Feast of Tabernacles. Hence, the Orthodox tradition celebrates the Transfiguration at about the time of the year when it actually occurred in order to connect it with the Old Testament Feast of Tabernacles. Western tradition celebrates the Transfiguration twice, first at the beginning of Lent with the Gospel account and second on August 6 with a full feast day liturgy.
The location of the Transfiguration was probably Mount Hermon in North Galilee, near Caesarea Philippi, where Jesus had camped for a week before the Transfiguration. The 9200-foot mountain was desolate. The traditional oriental belief that the Transfiguration took place on Mount Tabor is based on Psalm 89:12. But Mount Tabor is a hill in the south of Galilee, less than 1000 feet high with a Roman fort on top of it, an unlikely place for solitude and prayer.
The scene of Heavenly glory: The disciples received a preview of the glorious figure Jesus would become at Easter and beyond. While praying, Jesus was transfigured into a shining figure, full of Heavenly glory. This reminds us of Moses and Elijah who also experienced the Lord in all His glory. Moses had met the Lord in the burning bush at Mount Horeb (Ex 3:1-4). After his later encounter with God, Moses' face shone so brightly that it frightened the people, and Moses had to wear a veil over his face (Ex 34:29-35). The luminosity of the face of Moses is also meant to signal the invasion of God. The Jews believed that Moses was taken up in a cloud at end of his earthly life (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 4. 326). Elijah had traveled for forty days to Mt. Horeb on the strength of the food brought by an angel (1 Kgs 19:8). At Mt. Horeb, Elijah sought refuge in a cave as the glory of the Lord passed over him (1 Kgs 19:9-18). Finally, Elijah was taken directly to Heaven in a chariot of fire without experiencing death (2 Kgs 2:11-15). In addition, “Moses led his people out of slavery in Egypt, received the Torah on Mount Sinai and brought God’s people to the edge of the Promised Land. Elijah, the great prophet in northern Israel during the ninth century BC, performed healings and other miracles and stood up to Israel’s external enemies and the wicked within Israel. Their presence in Matthew’s Transfiguration account emphasizes Jesus’ continuity with the Law (Moses) and the prophets (Elijah) in salvation history.”(Fr. Harrington S. J.)
These representatives of the Law and the Prophets foreshadowed Jesus, the culmination of the Law and the Prophets. Both prophets were initially rejected by the people but were vindicated by God. The Jews believed that these men did not die because God Himself took Moses (Dt 34:5-6), and Elijah was carried to Heaven in a whirlwind (II Kgs 2:11). So the implication is that although God spared Moses and Elijah from the normal process of death, He did not spare His Son. Moses and Elijah appear on the mountain and speak to Jesus about his exodus (departure), that he was to accomplish at Jerusalem. Once again, the Transfiguration is a revelation that the way to glory passes through the Cross. The Transfiguration gives us a foretaste of Christ’s glorious coming, when he “will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body.” But it also recalls that “it is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God”(CCC #556). On Tabor, light pours forth from Jesus; on Calvary, blood pours forth. [E. Leiva-Merikakis, Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word (Ignatius Press), 564]
God the Father’s Voice from the Cloud: The book of Exodus describes how God spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai from the Cloud. God often made appearances in a cloud (Ex 24:15-17; 13:21-22; 34:5; 40:34; 1 Kgs 8:10-11). I Kgs 8:10 tells us how, by the cover of a cloud, God revealed His presence in the Ark of the Covenant and in the Temple of Jerusalem on the day of its dedication. The Jews generally believed that the phenomenon of the Cloud would be repeated when the Messiah arrived. God the Father, Moses and Elijah approved the plan regarding Jesus' suffering, death and Resurrection. God’s words from the Cloud: “This is my Son, the Beloved; with Him I am well pleased; listen to Him,” are the same words used by God at Jesus' baptism (3:17). They summarize the meaning of the Transfiguration: on this mountain, God reveals Jesus as His Son -- His beloved -- the One in Whom He is well pleased and to Whom we must listen. The last time we hear God the Father’s Voice in the Gospels is in the Temple following Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the day we know as Palm Sunday, when Jesus asks the Father to glorify his name and the Father responds, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again” (Jn 12:28). The Transfiguration was a manifestation of the glory of Jesus here on earth, a foretaste of the glory of Christ’s Resurrection, and therefore a foretaste of Heaven.
The six days: The six days could also be a reference to the Feast of Tabernacles. Peter confesses Jesus’ Divinity on the Day of Atonement in Caesarea Philippi (Mt 16:13-20), and the Apostles travel south for six days and reach Mount Tabor. The Transfiguration would have taken place, then, on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. During the Feast, the people of Israel recalled the time of Israel in the desert; they did this by living in tents. The people also looked forward to the age of the Messiah, when the just will dwell in tents (Zec 14:16). So, when Peter wants to make three tents – one for Jesus, one for Moses and one for Elijah – he is recognizing the fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles: the Messianic age has come. “It is only as they go down from the mountain that Peter has to learn once again that the messianic age is first and foremost the age of the Cross and that the Transfiguration – the experience of becoming light from and with the Lord – requires us to be burned by the light of the Passion and so transformed” (Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, vol. 1, 315).
Life messages: (1) The change of bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus by transubstantiation in the Holy Mass, is the source of our strength. At the shortage of wine during the wedding of Cana, Jesus changed water into wine: one substance became another substance. In each Holy Mass, our offering of bread and wine becomes the Body and Blood of Jesus under the appearances of bread and wine. However, the Mass is not a transfiguration but a transubstantiation, in which bread and wine become the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, alive there, as the risen and glorified Jesus. Hence, just as Jesus’ Transfiguration strengthened the Apostles in their time of trial, each Holy Mass should be our source of Heavenly strength against our own temptations and our source for the renewal of our lives during Lent and all year round. In addition, communion with Jesus in prayer and in the Eucharist, should be a source of daily transformation of both our minds and hearts. We must also be transformed by becoming more humble and selfless, sharing love, compassion and forgiveness with others. But in our everyday lives, we often fail to recognize Jesus when he appears to us “transfigured,” hidden in someone who is in some kind of need. Jesus will be comforted when we attend to his needs in that person. With the eyes of Faith, we must see Jesus in every one of our brothers and sisters, the children of God whom we come across each day and, by His grace, respond to Him in them with love and service.
(2) Each Sacrament that we receive transforms us. Baptism, for example, transforms us into sons and daughters of God and heirs of heaven. Confirmation makes us the temples of the Holy Spirit. By approaching the Sacrament of Reconciliation when we recognize, repenting, that we have sinned, God brings us back to the path of holiness. By receiving in Faith the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, we are spiritually, and if God wills physically, healed and our sins are forgiven.
(3) The Transfiguration offers us a message of hope and encouragement. In moments of doubt and during feelings of despair, the expectation of our transformation in Heaven helps us to reach out to God and listen to His consoling words: “This is my beloved son/daughter in whom I am well pleased.”
(4) We need these 'mountain-top’ experiences in our own lives. We can share experiences like those of Peter, James and John when we spend some extra time in prayer. Perhaps we may want to fast for one day, taking only water, thus releasing spiritual energy, which in turn, can lift our thoughts to a higher plane. Such a fast may also help us to remember the starving millions in the world, and make us more willing to help them.
JOKES OF THE WEEK:
“I got a better place in Jaffa.” A certain missionary on a study trip to the Holy Land was visiting Jaffa (Joppa) where Peter was residing when he baptized Cornelius (Acts 10). The breath-taking beauty of this small seaside town was such that it inspired the missionary to come up with this joke: At the Transfiguration Peter offers to build three tents, one for Jesus, one for Moses and one for Elijah. Jesus says, “And what about you, Peter?” And Peter replies, “Don’t worry about me Lord, I got a better place in Jaffa.”
Transformation in old age: Two old men are chatting. One man says, "My friend, you must try this memory pill I'm taking. I remember everything. It's an amazing memory booster." The other man says, "Sounds wonderful. What is the name of the pill?" The first man says, "Hmm! The name of the pill ... Let’s see ... Hmmm, what is the name of the flower produced on a garden plant with thorns? It's red ... You give it on Valentine's Day." The other man says, "A rose?" The first man says, "Yes, that's right!" Then, calling for his wife, he says, "Rose, what is the name of that pill which I take to boost my memory?"
USEFUL WEBSITES OF THE WEEK (For homilies & Bible study groups) (The easiest method to visit these websites is to copy and paste the web address or URL on the Address bar of any Internet website like Google or MSN and press the Enter button of your Keyboard).
1) Fr. Nick’s collection of Sunday homilies from 65 priests & weekday homilies: https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies
2) Fr. Don’ collection of video homilies & blogs: https://sundayprep.org/featured-homilies/ (Copy it on the Address bar and press the Enter button)
3) Fr. Geoffrey Plant’s beautiful & scholarly video classes on Sunday gospel, Bible & RCIA topics: https://www.youtube.com/user/GeoffreyPlant20663)
4) Dr. Brant Pitre’s commentary on Cycle A Sunday Scripture for Bible Class: https://catholicproductions.com/blogs/mass-readings-explained-year-Biblical basis of Catholic doctrines: http://scripturecatholic.com/
5) Agape Catholic Bible Lessons: http://www.agapebiblestudy.com/
8) Put Catholic Bible at your fingertips (on your Desk Top) chapters & verses: Procedure: USCCB Catholic Bible on the desktop. 1) Open the website http://www.usccb.org/bible/books-of-the-bible/index.cfm
1) Click File 2) Save as 3) Desktop
8) New Advent Encyclopedia on Transfiguration: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15019a.htm
20- Additional anecdotes 1) "You don't really know how it works, do you, Mom?" A little boy asked his mother, "Marriage makes you have babies, doesn't it, Mom?" The mother reluctantly answered her son, "Well, not exactly. Just because you are married does not mean that you have a baby." The boy continued his inquiry: "Then how do you have babies?" His mother, not very enthusiastic about continuing, answered, "It's kind of hard to explain." The boy paused and thought for a moment. He then moved closer to Mom, looked her right in eye, and carefully said, "You don't really know how it works, do you, Mom?" -- Believe it or not, today’s Gospel passage with a Christophany on a mountain is one of those "What does that mean, and how am I supposed to explain that?" sort of passages. It's difficult because, as the little boy told his mother, we "don't really know how it works." And when you don't know how something works, it's hard to explain. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
2) Metamorphosis of a Grub into a Dragonfly: At the bottom of a pond some little grub worms (larvae of dragonflies) are crawling around in the mud. They wonder what happens to their companions who climb up the stem of the water lily and never come back. They agree among themselves that the next one who is called to the surface will come back and tell them what happened. The next grub worm (nymph) that finds itself drawn to the surface by nature, crawls out on a lily leaf and emerges from its last molting skin as a beautiful adult dragonfly. It has been dark and murky down below, but the dragonfly sees that everything is bright and sunny in the upper world. Suddenly something begins to happen. The transformed grub spreads out two huge beautiful colored wings and flies back and forth across the pond to convey the glad tiding of its transfiguration to its friends. It can see the other grubs in the pond below, but they can’t see him. He also realizes that he cannot dive into the pond to convey the glad tidings of his great transformation. -- This metamorphosis is nothing in comparison to the glorious transformation awaiting us after our death. https://youtu.be/0C21zranBUw (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
3)Edmund Hillary’s mountain-top experience on Mount Everest. The seniors among us certainly recall that amazing story 70 years ago, May 29, 1953. A New Zealand beekeeper named Edmund Hillary and a Sherpa guide, Tenzing Norgay, were the first ever to reach Everest's summit. Here was a mountain -- unreachable, tantalizing, fearsome, deadly -- that had defeated 15 previous expeditions. Some of the planet's strongest climbers had perished on its slopes. For many, Everest represented the last of the earth's great challenges. The North Pole had been reached in 1909; the South Pole in 1911. But Everest, often called the Third Pole, had defied all human efforts - reaching its summit seemed beyond mere mortals. Now success! And heightening the impact even further was the delicious coincidence of their arrival just before the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and the dramatic announcement of their triumph on the morning of the coronation. It was literally a "mountaintop experience." -- The mountaintop experience of which we read in today’s Gospel a moment ago involved Jesus and His three closest Apostles - Peter, James, and John. Leading His three up the mountain, Jesus began to pray, and then His miraculous Transfiguration made His Heavenly glory visible to His disciples. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
4) Missing the point: Once upon a time, a man took his new hunting dog on a trial hunt. After a while, he managed to shoot a duck and it fell into the lake. The dog walked on the water, picked up the duck and brought it to his master. The man was stunned. He didn’t know what to think. He shot another duck and again it fell into the lake and, again, the dog walked on the water and brought it back to him. What a fantastic dog – he can walk on water and get nothing but his paws wet. The next day he asked his neighbor to go hunting with him so that he could show off his hunting dog, but he didn’t tell his neighbor anything about the dog’s ability to walk on water. As on the previous day, he shot a duck and it fell into the lake. The dog walked on the water and got it. His neighbor didn’t say a word. Several more ducks were shot that day and each time the dog walked over the water to retrieve them and each time the neighbor said nothing and neither did the owner of the dog. Finally, unable to contain himself any longer, the owner asked his neighbor, "Have you noticed anything strange, anything different about my dog?" "Yes," replied the neighbor, “Your dog doesn’t know how to swim." -- The neighbor missed the point completely. He couldn’t see the wonder of a dog that could walk on water; he could only see that the dog didn’t do what other hunting dogs do to retrieve ducks, that is, to swim. That the disciple, Peter had missed the point at the Christophany of the Transfiguration is made clear by his declaration: “I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
5) The new prioress is turning monastic life into "one big party." A most unusual protest took place in a convent in New Jersey. Four nuns locked themselves in a tiny second floor infirmary and took a vow of "near silence." They were protesting new rules established by their new prioress, Mother Theresa Hewitt. It seems that Mother Theresa had introduced television, secular videos, recorded music, bright lights, and (horror of horrors) daily "sweets" into the convent. The sweets consisted of a tin of candy which was passed around each day and each nun was supposed to indulge. In the words of one of the protesting nuns (who were among the younger nuns in the order, by the way) the new prioress was turning monastic life into "one big party." In order to express their revulsion at these ungodly changes, the four sisters locked themselves away. -- We can sympathize. There is much in our brave new world from which I would like to withdraw. I can sympathize with Simon Peter who wanted to build three booths and stay on the mountaintop of the Transfiguration in the presence of Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. Unfortunately, he was not given that option, and neither are we. We must live in this world of strident, discordant noise. There is no retreat. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
6) Movie preview: You go into the movie theatre, find a seat that's suitable. You find a place for your coat, sit down, and get ready to watch the movie. The house lights dim; the speakers crackle as the dust and scratches on the soundtrack are translated into static, and an image appears on the screen. It is not the film you came to see. It is the preview of coming attractions, a brief glimpse of the highlights of a film opening soon. The moviemakers and theater owners hope the preview will pique your interest enough to make you want to come back and see the whole film. -- On the Mount of the Transfiguration, Peter, James and John, the inner circle of Jesus' disciples, were given a preview of coming attractions. Today’s Gospel gives us a splendid preview of Jesus radiant with Divine glory shining brilliantly through his mortal nature. This momentary transfiguration was a dazzling preview of Heaven, where His Divinity, unalloyed and perfectly pure, shines in glory like the very sun. This is a sneak preview, in other words, of Jesus’ final coming in Glory to take us Home, the triumphant climax of the epic love story between God and humanity. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
7) “I had an hour of glory on a windswept hill.” Dr. William Stidger once told of a lovely little 90-year-old lady named Mrs. Sampson. Mrs. Sampson was frail, feeble, even sickly. But Dr. Stidger said that when he was discouraged, he always went to visit Mrs. Sampson. She had a radiant spirit that was contagious. One day he asked this 90-year-young woman, “What is the secret of your power? What keeps you happy, contented and cheerful through your sickness?” She answered with a line from a poem, “I had an hour of glory on a windswept hill.” Bill Stidger said, recounting this experience, “I knew she had been in touch with God and that was the whole reason for her cheerfulness.” -- Listen again to her words: “an hour of glory on a windswept hill.” It sounds very much like the experience Peter, James and John had on the Mount of Transfiguration. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
8) “What did you do with the ship?" A brilliant magician was performing on an ocean liner. But every time he did a trick, the Captain's parrot would yell, "It's a trick. He's a phony. That's not magic." Then one evening during a storm, the ship sank while the magician was performing. The parrot and the magician ended up in the same lifeboat. For several days they just glared at each other, neither saying a word to the other. Finally, the parrot said, "OK, I give up. What did you do with the ship?" -- The parrot couldn't explain that last trick! It was too much to comprehend, even for a smart parrot. Peter was like that parrot after witnessing the Transfiguration scene. He said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three tents-one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
9) The Mountain Top. John A. Redhead, Jr. tells of a father and son who have a really good relationship. Among their many good times together, one stood out above all the rest: It was a hike up a particular mountain where they seemed to reach the height of a beautiful friendship. After they returned home, there came a day when things did not seem to run as smoothly. The father rebuked the son, and the son spoke sharply in return. An hour later, the air had cleared. “Dad,” said the son, “whenever it starts to get like that again, let’s one of us say ‘The Mountain Top.’” So it was agreed. In a few weeks another misunderstanding occurred. The boy was sent to his room in tears. After a while, the father decided to go up and see the boy. He was still angry until he saw a piece of paper pinned to the door. The boy had penciled three words in large letters: “The Mountain Top.” That symbol was powerful enough to restore the relationship of father and son. (Harry Emerson Fosdick, Riverside Sermons (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1958).) -- Come with me to the mountain. It is there that relationships can be made right. Come with me to the mountain. See who Jesus is. See what, by his grace, you and I can yet become. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
10) The Church of the Transfiguration: The traditional site for the Transfiguration is Mount Tabor, a high mountain in the north country of Israel. Over the years, the Church has gone where Peter could not go, and we have built what he could not build. Helena, mother of Constantine, built a sanctuary in the top of Mount Tabor in 326 A.D. By the end of the sixth century, three churches stood on the mountaintop, one each for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. More shrines were built there over the next 400 years, and Saladin destroyed them all in 1187. A fortress built in 1212 was destroyed by the end of the thirteenth century. The summit was abandoned for another six hundred years, until a Greek Orthodox community built a monastery there. Sometime later, the Franciscans built a Latin basilica on the highest point of the summit, where they now maintain worship services and a website. The site can be reached at http://www.christusrex.org/www1/ofm/san/tab00mn/html) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
11) "Then you can imagine how humble and awkward I feel in yours." Winston Churchill knew the difference between celebrities and heroes. In the summer of 1941, Sergeant James Allen Ward was awarded the Victoria Cross for climbing out onto the wing of his Wellington bomber at 13,000 feet above ground to extinguish a fire in the starboard engine. Secured only by a rope around his waist, he managed to smother the fire and return along the wing to the aircraft's cabin. Churchill, an admirer as well as a performer of swashbuckling exploits, summoned the shy New Zealander to 10 Downing Street. Ward, struck dumb with awe in Churchill's presence, was unable to answer the Prime Minister's questions. Churchill surveyed the unhappy hero with some compassion. "You must feel very humble and awkward in my presence," he said, "Yes, Sir," managed Ward. "Then you can imagine how humble and awkward I feel in yours," returned Churchill. [Max Anders, Jesus (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995), p. 24.] -- Churchill knew he was in the presence of a real hero. So did the disciples. In fact, they knew they were in the presence of Someone Whose significance went beyond celebrity, even beyond heroic. He was their Lord, their Master, their King. If we are wise, he will be our Lord, our Master, our King. If we are wise, Christ will be our Hero, too. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
12) "Let me build three booths here" Do you remember how President Reagan insisted he had done the right thing after he visited the cemetery in Bitburg, West Germany, despite the fact that it contained the bodies of at least twenty-nine Nazi SS soldiers, and later, as if to offset the visit to Bitburg, made a pilgrimage to one of the concentration camps? His argument, supporting his contention that he had done a good deed, was based on what he learned about the manner in which the German people actually make pilgrimages to some of the death camps to keep alive the terrible memory in adults and make children realize how awful those camps were. Graphic and gruesome photographs and news stories of the atrocities, uncovered after the Allies liberated them, are posted in prominent places so no one will ever forget. -- "Let me build three booths here" was Peter's way of marking the spot of Jesus' Transfiguration so no one would ever forget. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
13) The shepherd's pipe once played by Moses: John Killinger tells the legend about "the simple shepherd's pipe once played by Moses when he kept his father-in-law's flocks. When the pipe was discovered, many years after Moses' death, it was decided that it should be put on display for the benefit of his admirers. But it looked far too common for such an important purpose, so someone suggested that it be embellished by an artist. A few centuries later, when the pipe was given a new home in an upscale museum, a committee said it needed improving yet again. So, another artist was employed to overlay it in fine gold and silver filigree. The result, in the end, was a breathtaking piece of art, a marvelous sight indeed. It was so beautiful, in fact, that no one ever noticed that it was no longer capable of the clear, seductive notes once played upon it by Moses." [God, the Devil, and Harry Potter (New York: Thomas Dunne, 2002), 162-3]. -- How do we tell what voices to listen to, whose advice to take, what directives are important, and what we should just let fall on deaf ears? In today's Gospel text, the Divine Voice from the enshrouding Cloud offered Peter, James, and John simple, straightforward words: "This is my Beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased; listen to him." (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
14) Into Thin Air: A few years ago a book was published that described a different kind of mountaintop experience. It was Jon Krakauer’s book Into Thin Air. It was his description of a disastrous expedition in which he took part – a climb up Mount Everest. Mount Everest is the highest point on earth, rising 29,029 feet above sea level. Hundreds of people have died trying to scale its slopes. On May 10, 1996, climbers from three different expeditions attempting to reach the summit of Everest found themselves in a traffic jam as they approached the final ascent. An unexpected storm suddenly came up, claiming the lives of eight of the climbers. Jon Krakauer was in one of those three groups. The title of his book, Into Thin Air, comes partially from an experience he had on top of the mountain. As he was beginning his slow descent back down the mountain, Krakauer became concerned about his oxygen supply. He was going to stop and rest for a few moments while he waited on others who were still making it to the top. So he asked Andy Harris, a guide with another team with whom he had become close friends, to turn down his oxygen supply, so as to conserve it for the trip back. Harris turned the knob on the back of his pack, and Krakauer sat, to wait for the rest of his team. There atop Everest, Krakauer says he had this moment of absolute clarity as he gazed out over the craggy peaks of the Himalayan Mountains. After a difficult journey up, he felt in control for the first time on the trip. And then . . . his oxygen ran out. You see, his friend Andy Harris had turned the knob in the wrong direction: he hadn’t turned it down, he’d turned it up. The moment of absolute clarity that Krakauer experienced was the result of an oversupply of oxygen-rich air. His feeling of control was an illusion. [Jon Krakauer, Into Thin Air (Villard Books, 1997)]. -- That moment of terror for Jon Krakauer is comparable to what Peter, James and John felt as the mountain on which they stood suddenly became enveloped by a Cloud, and they heard a Voice from that Cloud. They were terrified. Afterwards, Jesus said to them, as he often had to say to them, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
15) “I just want to hold on to the ball as long as I can.” Some of you baseball fans remember former major league catcher and TV personality Joe Garagiola. Garagiola is a great story-teller. He tells a story about baseball legend Stan Musial. Musial came to the plate in a critical game. The opposing pitcher in the game was young and nervous. Garagiola was catching, and he called for a fastball to be pitched to Musial. The pitcher shook his head. He didn’t want to throw that pitch. Joe signaled for a curve, and again the pitcher shook him off. Then he signaled for a change-up. Still the pitcher hesitated. Garagiola went out to the mound to talk to his young pitcher. He said, “I’ve called for every pitch in the book; what do you want to throw?” “Nothing,” was the pitcher’s reply. “I just want to hold on to the ball as long as I can.” -- Well, who can blame him? Musial was a legendary hitter. And that’s the way many of us are living -- holding on as long as we can to our grudges, holding onto our resentments, holding onto our fears. Why? Because we’re afraid to let go. Listen, friend. Jesus is here today, and he is saying to you, “Don’t be afraid.” Don’t be afraid. Listen to his voice. This day can mean the beginning of a new you. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
16) “I just want you to know that I love you.” Did you hear the story about an inattentive, workaholic husband who suddenly decided to surprise his wife with a night to remember? He went down to the department store and bought her the expensive dress she had been admiring. He bought her a large bottle of perfume to go with it. He ordered tickets to the Broadway play she had been wanting to see and made reservations at their favorite restaurant. On his way home he stopped by the florist and bought two dozen red roses which he carried home under his arm. Upon arriving home, he exploded through the door, hugged his wife affectionately and told her what he had done. “I just want you to know that I love you; I appreciate you; I adore you.” Instead of melting in the man’s arms his wife started screaming at the top of her voice. “This has been the worst day of my life,” she said. “It was awful at the office. We lost our biggest account; co-workers were obnoxious; clients were unreasonable. I came home to find the kids had broken my favorite lamp; the baby sitter is quitting; and the water heater is out; and now surprise of surprises, my normally sober husband comes home drunk!” -- When today’s Gospel starts talking about a Transfiguration with radiant faces and glowing garments and visitors from the dead, we become more than a little suspicious. What is going on here? All along the question remains: Are we willing to let ourselves be engulfed in mystery, inspired by glory, transformed by encounters of a Divine kind? That’s what the Transfiguration of Jesus is all about. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
17) The Transfiguration: Rabbi Abraham Twersky tells a story about his great-grandfather who was sitting with other rabbinical scholars studying the Talmud when it was decided to take a break for refreshments. One of the groups offered to pay for the refreshments, but there was no one who volunteered to go for them. According to Twersky, in his book Generation to Generation, his great-grandfather said, “Just hand me the money, I have a young boy who will be glad to go.” After a rather extended period, he finally returned with the refreshments, and it became obvious to all that the rabbi himself had gone and performed the errand. Noticing their discomfort, the rabbi explained: “I didn’t mislead you at all. You see, many people outgrow their youth and become old men. I have never let the spirit of my youth depart. And as I grew older, I always took along with me that young boy I had been. It was that young boy in me that did the errand. (Gerard Fuller in Stories for all Seasons). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
18) Film: Phenomenon –Transforming Light: In the film, George Malley is a simple, pleasant, and popular man who lives in a small town where he fixes cars and experiments in growing vegetables in his garden. He turns 37 and after his birthday celebration, he is knocked unconscious by a bright light in the sky that falls towards him and explodes. When he comes to, he has been transformed. His I.Q has soared, and he develops telekinetic powers. He begins to speed-read and is able to translate for the local doctor when he is treating a non-English speaking patient. The townspeople are puzzled because George has always been so ordinary. A scientist interviews and tests him. George is apprehended by the FBI who are suspicious about his amazing knowledge and contacts. Meanwhile, his friends support him; so does Lace, a furniture maker with two small children whom George begins to court. Eventually his physical condition deteriorates and the FBI keeps him in custody in a hospital. He escapes and returns to Lace, and we discover the reasons for his extraordinary intelligence before he dies. Lace mourns for George. A year later the whole town and his friends gather to celebrate his birthday as his memory and spirit live on. (Peter Malone in ‘Lights, Camera… Faith!’) -- As we journey in life, may we be transformed by touches of His presence! (Fr. Botelho) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
19) Finding God on the mountain? The 17th century English poet, John Donne, tells of a man searching for God. He is convinced that God lives on the top of a mountain at the end of the earth. After a journey of many days, the man arrives at the foot of the mountain and begins to climb it. At the same time God says to the angels: “What can I do to show my people how much I love them?” He decides to descend the mountain and live among the people as one of them. As the man is going up one side of the mountain, God is descending the other side. They don’t see each other because they are on opposite sides of the mountain. On reaching the summit, the man discovers an empty mountaintop. Heartbroken, the man concludes that God does not exist. -- Despite speculation to the contrary, God does not live isolated and detached from earthly life on mountaintops, deserts, or at the end of the earth. Though He is and always will be, “Our Father who art in Heaven,” God also dwells among us and within us now, through His Son Jesus Christ and in His Church. Staying on in the safety of the mountain is what Peter would prefer. During the Transfiguration, Peter and his companions got a glimpse of the future glory of Jesus’ Resurrection. They want nothing more. However, after they come down the mountain, they are told by Jesus that the glory they witnessed would be permanent only after he had gone through suffering and death and they too had followed Him thorugh death into Life. We too will share in his glory, only by sharing in his suffering and death. (Simon K. in The Sunday Liturgy; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
20) Transformed by love: In the year 1464 a sculptor named Agostino di Duccio began working on a huge piece of flawed marble. Intending to produce a magnificent sculpture of an Old Testament prophet for a Cathedral in Florence, Italy, he labored for two years and then stopped. In 1476 Antonio Rosselino started to work on the same piece of marble and in time he abandoned it also. In 1501 a 26-year-old sculptor named Michelangelo was offered a considerable sum of money to produce something worthwhile from that enormous block of marble called 'the giant.' As he began his work he saw a major flaw near the bottom that had stymied other sculptors, including, it is said, Leonardo da Vinci. He decided to turn that part of the stone into a broken tree stump that would support the right leg. The rest he worked on for four years until he had produced the incomparable 'David'. Today the seventeen-foot-tall statue stands on display at the Academia Gallery in Florence where people come from around the world to view it. More than a masterpiece, it is one of the greatest works of art ever produced. How did he do it? Here is the answer in his own words: "In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to other eyes as mine see it." Said in more colloquial terms, "I cut away everything that didn't look like David." -- The feast of transfiguration of Our Lord challenges us to prepare ourelves for transformation in our Christian lives by eliminating everything evil and renewing our lives through His Grace.. (Johnson V. in 'Liturgy and Life'(http://frtonyshomilies.com/). L-23
“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle A (No. 45) by Fr. Tony: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit my website by clicking on http://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed or previous Cycle C & A homilies, 141 Year of Faith “Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at email@example.com. Visit https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies of Fr. Nick’s collection of homilies or Resources in the CBCI website: https://www.cbci.in. (Special thanks to Vatican Radio website http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html -which completed uploading my Cycle A, B and C homilies in May 2020) Fr. Anthony Kadavil, C/o Fr. Jogi M. C. , St. Agatha Church, 1001 Hand Avenue, Bay Minette, Al 36507