Sunday, March 8, 2020


This homily began as a personal journal entry. It was before my diaconate ordination; it was possibly before my entry into the Church (I haven’t looked to see the exact date). The impetus was a Mass I attended when the Gospel was the Transfiguration text. Unfortunately, the homily that day was a totally wasted opportunity (it was not a Diocese of Harrisburg priest). As I sat in agony over what could have been proclaimed, a “what could have been” thought developed in my mind. Later at home, I made the journal entry.

Some years later, after my ordination, the Transfiguration text was the Gospel on a Sunday I was preaching. I went back to my journal and worked my thoughts from that earlier day into a homily. I have used the essence of this several times, and the Lord keeps nudging me to give it again.

This year I had developed another homily using the Epistle reading. On Saturday night, as I began to prepare my mind and heart to proclaim God’s Word, I sensed that what I had written for this weekend was not what I was to give. I looked again at the Transfiguration homily and the Spirit gave affirmation. So, here is a previously preached sermon––but the truth is ever new. May the Lord give us spiritual eyes to see…..

March 8, 2020 –– 2nd Sunday in Lent
Genesis 12:1–4a / 2 Timothy 1:8b–10 / Matthew 17:1–9

What if we could go back in time and see Jesus when he was on earth! What did people see when they looked at Jesus? They saw…. a man. Sometimes they saw him do some amazing things, but he was still a man who dressed like them, ate like them, walked the roads and paths like them.... a man who the Scriptures and the Church confess to be fully human.

Those looking at him during those earthly years would have asked (if they had been told this Man was God): What? How? Jesus seemed—even though he was engaging, puzzling, commanding, divisive and exasperating—to be just another man.

But one day—one time on one particular day—Peter, James and John saw Jesus in his glory: he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And so John wrote later in his Gospel: we have seen his glory. The writer to the Hebrews says that the Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being. The glory that covered Adam and Eve at the beginning, the glory that came down on Mt. Sinai and caused Moses’ face to shine, the glory that inhabited the Tabernacle and the Temple, and the glory promised by Isaiah and Ezekiel came into our world in the person of Jesus Christ.

Yet God does not overwhelm us. God wants us to trust him. So Jesus let three of his disciples see his glory once during those ministry days. It was enough to pave the way for a Faith that would change the world. We can believe today because there is a credible eyewitness record that has been established by the Apostles. Peter and John both wrote that they saw.... and they testified that these things are true.... and then they lived––in such a contrasting way to who they previously were—so that people looking at them took notice that they had been with Jesus.

What do you “see” when you come to church? Do we limit our vision to the human side of the liturgy? Do we ever wonder: If Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist, why isn’t there an obvious and overwhelming glory? The Transfiguration calls us—warmly and powerfully invites us—to “see” the glory of God beyond what is considered normal and natural in the world around us. Without faith we do not see beyond outward appearance, but Jesus came to show us what is real.

As Christians, we live in the hope of glory. Our destiny is to be like Jesus. As we journey through these days of Lent, let’s not forget the bigger picture. Jesus gave this early glimpse of his glory so that his disciples (and that includes us) could have a brief picture of reality. The truth of Jesus… his presence in the Eucharist… the transformation he is doing in us…. it’s all right here.

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