Homily on the Transfiguration

Submission from a friend

And He was transfigured in their sight. It seems to our modern minds almost impossible to believe. Most of us never experience such extraordinary events in our lives. One may ask what does this have to do with my own ordinary life- it seems to have no relevance. We may even say it could never happen to me. However, its application to our lives is not so distant in time or place.

In 1858 a poor girl lived in France. In fact her family was so poor that her younger brother spent much time in church not praying but scraping the wax off the floor to dull the pains of hunger. Few of us have ever tasted the painful effects of such ordinary poverty. Such was the life of Bernadette Soubirous. It was to her that our Lady appeared in February of that year during the dead of winter. It was during those visits that Bernadette herself was transfigured with a light not of this world. Even her own mother once gasped saying she couldn’t recognize her own daughter- such was the change effected in Bernadette. We even have the testimony of many other eye witnesses who had originally come to the see her not out respect or belief but curiosity. Yet they who had moments earlier belittled Bernadette and the apparitions were struck to the heart with awe before the sight. The universal testimony of all the witnesses corroborated the extraordinary nature of the event. Still some doubted for faith does not believe in spite of the testimony of our eyes and minds. Rather faith believes despite the prideful conception of our own intelligence- it is a grace granted to those who are poor in their own sight.

Perhaps we may wish that we too could see the glory our Lord as the disciples did on the mountain or even its reflection in Bernadette. It all sounds so romantic. We believe that if only we could see a miracle all our doubts would be removed and then we could be like the saints. We over estimate ourselves and fail to see our true state. Perhaps we would even belittle St Peter for saying Lord it is good for us to be here. Let us build three booths for you Moses and Elijah. After all it would seem that he of all people should have more presence of mind. Yet all too often we also want the Lord remain with us on our own terms. We want not to take up our cross and follow Him but to stay where we are and have God cater to us. We want the glory without the inconvenience. We want the transfiguration without the cross. 

 Yet God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. The purpose of the transfiguration was to help the disciples realize that Jesus did not come so that they could remain on the mountain forever to behold the glory of his transfiguration. Rather our Lord came to open the doors of heaven itself. We are called to even greater heights than any mountain on earth.  The transfiguration that St Bernadette experienced was a mere reflection of the glory and freedom of her lot in heaven. It was a reflection of Our Lord’s transfiguration which we also are called to share in. 

Our Lady once told Bernadette that she did not promise her happiness in this world but in the next. So it is with us. That is why we should not seek to find lasting happiness in our job, possessions, or even those dearest people we love on earth. We cannot remain here forever- our passage through this life is brief and short. The same applies to the things we love on earth. Rather we are called to ascend to a higher mountain- that of Calvary for that is where our cross is. It is there that we will meet our Lord face to face and behold his glory- for that is the pathway to the highest mountain- heaven itself. How does this relate to our everyday life? It means that those annoying or painful events and even the people who cross us are our pathway to heaven. They are the cross which we are called to embrace as Jesus bore our sins and those of the whole world. Therefore let us patiently love others realizing that it is through those little crosses we enter the joy that is heaven. Let us daily be merciful to others and patient with God’s love for them. Let us sacrifice ourselves for the heavenly good of our neighbor by sharing the love of the Good News with them in deed and word.  Let us not be ashamed of the cross. Despite the fact that our everyday life often seems ordinary and commonplace it is by our faithful struggle to climb those ordinary mountains of life by which we ascend to heaven.

 With the love of God and for the crosses of Christ let us now prepare to receive with love and reverence Jesus whom lovingly bore us as His cross.

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