On Good Friday in 1520 A.D., prominent Italian painter and architect Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (better known as simply “Raphael”) died at the age of 37. He left behind a large body of work including paintings, altarpieces, sculptures, sketches… and one unfinished oil painting on wood, titled the Transfiguration.
Raphael, busy with other commissions, had worked on the Transfiguration for four years—but he died prematurely before it could be completed. The work was finished by Raphael’s student Giulio Romano after the artist’s funeral. There is a noticeable difference in the fine details of the top and bottom, probably because the hand of the Master had been stilled.
Even in its unfinished state, Raphael considered the Transfiguration to be his greatest masterpiece. He was so proud of it, in fact, that it was prominently displayed behind his deathbed.
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THE LITURGY OF THE WORD.
It is very important for us to read God’s Word slowly and reflectively. We are not reading it just to get information or answer questions; we must enable God’s Word to enter us just like liquid polish enters timber that is thirsty for nutrition. A good rule of thumb is to have a question like this in our mind……”Lord, what are you saying to ME in your Word today? Secondly, how can my life be changed, in order to allow God’s Word to find a Home in my being? Finally, as for special Feasts, Advent and Lent, the three Readings are in a sequence which has an underlying thread running through them. In Ordinary time, the First Reading, and the Gospel are bridged…so we generally look for the link. The Second Reading is continuous, and follows on to the next Sunday.
First Reading: Genesis 15:5-12. 17-18
Taking Abram outside the Lord said, ‘Look up to heaven and count the stars if you can. Such will be your descendants’ he told him. Abram put his faith in the Lord, who counted this as making him justified.
‘I am the Lord’ he said to him ‘who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldaeans to make you heir to this land.’ ‘My Lord, the Lord’ Abram replied ‘how am I to know that I shall inherit it?’ He said to him, ‘Get me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove and a young pigeon.’ He brought him all these, cut them in half and put half on one side and half facing it on the other; but the birds he did not cut in half. Birds of prey came down on the carcasses but Abram drove them off.
Now as the sun was setting Abram fell into a deep sleep, and terror seized him. When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, there appeared a smoking furnace and a firebrand that went between the halves. That day the Lord made a Covenant with Abram in these terms:
‘To your descendants I give this land,
from the wadi of Egypt to the Great River.’
The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
(Let’s PAUSE and reflect upon this reading, and let us ask ourselves the two questions stated above. That is our PERSONAL response to the Word. This might take a few minutes, try not to rush it. The Psalm and Antiphon is the COMMUNITY response to God’s Word, a bit like a short and sweet Text Message)
Psalm: Ps 26:1. 7-9. 13-14
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
The Lord is my light and my help;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
before whom shall I shrink? R.
O Lord, hear my voice when I call;
have mercy and answer.
Of you my heart has spoken:
‘Seek his face.’ R.
It is your face, O Lord, that I seek;
hide not your face.
Dismiss not your servant in anger;
you have been my help. R.
I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness
in the land of the living.
Hope in him, hold firm and take heart.
Hope in the Lord! R.
Second Reading: Philippians 3:17 – 4:1
My brothers, be united in following my rule of life. Take as your models everybody who is already doing this and study them as you used to study us. I have told you often, and I repeat it today with tears, there are many who are behaving as the enemies of the cross of Christ. They are destined to be lost. They make foods into their god and they are proudest of something they ought to think shameful; the things they think important are earthly things. For us, our homeland is in heaven, and from heaven comes the saviour we are waiting for, the Lord Jesus Christ, and he will transfigure these wretched bodies of ours into copies of his glorious body. He will do that by the same power with which he can subdue the whole universe.
So then, my brothers and dear friends, do not give way but remain faithful in the Lord. I miss you very much, dear friends; you are my joy and my crown.
The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Let’s PAUSE again after this Reading, and reflect on it like you did after the first Reading. The Community Acclamation follows and should be sung: e.g. ALLELUIA, or PRAISE TO YOU LORD JESUS CHRIST KING OF ENDLESS GLORY. When we are present at our Sunday Eucharistic Celebration, the Alleluia or Praise be to you…should always be sung. Why? It’s a bit like singing Happy Birthday! We never say it…
Gospel: Luke 9:28-36
Jesus took with him Peter and John and James and went up the mountain to pray. As he prayed, the aspect of his face was changed and his clothing became brilliant as lightning. Suddenly there were two men there talking to him; they were Moses and Elijah appearing in glory, and they were speaking of his passing which he was to accomplish in Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were heavy with sleep, but they kept awake and saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As these were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ – He did not know what he was saying. As he spoke, a cloud came and covered them with shadow; and when they went into the cloud the disciples were afraid. And a voice came from the cloud saying, ‘This is my Son, the Chosen One. Listen to him’. And after the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. The disciples kept silence and, at that time, told no one what they had seen.
The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
DEEP SEA DIVING INTO THE SCRIPTURES
If you have ever opened your eyes under water, or used a snorkel and face mask, or had the opportunity to use an aqualung, it is a very different world to explore isn’t it? I love snorkelling, and it is though the fish welcome you into their world. However, they need to be treated with respect, and one must be aware of ‘no-go’ zones especially where sharks are known to call that place, ‘home’ especially at meal times. So, this next section is going down into the Scriptures, which opens the pathway for us to be curious about The Word, and it will also develop an appetite in us to do this more often.
Focusing the Word
Key words and phrases
Jesus took with him Peter and John and James and went up the mountain to pray.
This is my Son, the Chosen One. Listen to him.
Abram put his faith in the Lord, who counted this as making him justified.
Our homeland is in heaven, and from heaven comes the saviour we are waiting for.
The Lord is my light and my salvation.
to the point
Only Luke’s account of the transfiguration alludes to the passion as part of the revelation of Jesus’ glory. Thus, without detracting from the glory that is central to the transfiguration, the Lenten context challenges us to embrace the paschal aspect of the suffering that leads to glory.
Connecting the Word
to the next three Sundays
In this transfiguration account Luke embraces themes (glory, exodus, Jerusalem) that are developed over the next three Sundays in the gospels having a common motif of repentance: repent or perish, seek forgiveness and feast, repent and live.
We tend to have two opposite stances toward pain and suffering: avoid it at all costs; end it as soon as possible or tough it out. Neither approach is what the paschal mystery implies – embracing pain and suffering (dying to self) is what leads to new life and glory.
Understanding the Word
Transfiguration and passion
Several features of the transfiguration story highlight the glorious aspects of this event: Jesus’ changed appearance, his dazzlingly white robes, the presence of Moses and Elijah, the manifestation of Jesus’ glory, the cloud of divine presence, the heavenly voice announcing Jesus as the Son of God.
But several features also point to the passion /death /resurrection of Jesus. The Lectionary begins the reading in the middle of verse 28. The omitted half of the verse indicates that this event took place ‘about eight days after’ Peter’s confession that Jesus is ‘the Messiah of God’ (9:20). ‘Eight days’ was interpreted by the early Fathers of the Church as a reference to the resurrection: in Jewish reckoning, Saturday (the Sabbath) is the seventh day of the week which makes Sunday the first day of the week or, if counting continuously, the eighth day. The expression ‘the eighth day’ became shorthand for the resurrection. While this usage is not attested in the New Testament, early Christian documents moved in this direction.
Only Luke indicates what Moses and Elijah were talking about: ‘his passing which he was to accomplish (Greek = fulfil) in Jerusalem’. The use of the term ‘passing’ may be a reflex from the reference to Moses, the hero of the Exodus, in which case Jesus is being identified as the long-expected ‘Prophet like Moses’ (Deut 18:15,18; see also Acts 3:22; 7:37). Or, because of the future reference, ‘he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem’, it possibly refers to his coming death /resurrection /ascension. The immediate reference to his ‘glory’ makes this very likely.
Two more details point this story to the passion. The disciples will once again be found sleeping, next time in Gethsemane (Luke 22:45-46). And finally, the words ‘this is my Son, the Chosen One’ reflect the vocabulary of the Servant of the Lord ( 42:1), the same Servant who ‘gives his life as an offering for sin’ Isaiah 53:10) and whose death ‘shall justify many’ (Isaiah 53:11). Glory and passion are the two sides of the paschal mystery.
A realhomilie from Fr.Kevin Walsh
THE WRITTEN STYLE OF THE REALHOMILIE
It is my aim that I present the Homily to you in a way that you might hear me speaking.
I do not follow the strict rules of written prose as such; I use the techniques of oratory shared with me
in many Mission Sermons, and Mission Instructions by tried and true Mission Fathers,
from whom I am privileged to
have been formed in that great tradition.
St.Paul of the Cross. Pray for us.
Dear One and All,
On the second Sunday of Lent each year, the gospel is always about the Transfiguration of Jesus, of which we have several accounts in the Gospels. Today’s account is from St.Luke. Once again, we read of Jesus inviting Peter, James, and John to climb a mountain, and join him in prayer. This means that they would have been close in proximity to Jesus. We are told that Jesus was praying, which seemed to be quite a familiar scene to the apostles who accompanied him. This time, however, something happened. The veil was lifted, and they got a glimpse of the divinity of Jesus. Moses and Elijah appeared to him, and they seemed to be talking together. Peter, as usual, was right there with a suggestion: This scene is so beautiful, that he wanted to build some kind of accommodation, so that they could continue to live there. Moses and Elijah disappeared, however, and, in the midst of some sort of misty cloud, they heard the Father’s voice announcing ‘this is my Son, the Chosen One. Listen to him’. Everything then returned to normal, and the apostles kept the event a secret for a long time after it happened. Could they return to normal?…the Apostles were also changed. However, what effect did that special event have on their minds and understanding of Jesus, and of the Mission entrusted to him by His Father? What can we learn from this event today?
In the Scriptures, there are many references in the Old and New Testament about the significance of Revelations on top of mountains. Some of these special occasions would most certainly be the encounter that Moses had with The Lord God YHWH on Mt.Sinai. The very place where God initiated the Covenant with his people, and gave them the Ten Commandments or Decalogue (Ten Words) as a guide for them. Remember Mt.Nebo? The place where Moses and the chosen people viewed the Promised Land…it was the Mountain where the promises made by Yahweh were fulfilled. Of course, Mt.Calvary, the place of the Lord’s Cross; so closely linked to Mt.Tabor, the Mountain in today’s Gospel.
Mountains are places of revelation, they are places of deepened insight; it’s where we can come to that stillness within a prayer-filled moment. It is that kind of experience which we, like the Apostles would like to have captured, so that the pervading influence would continue. I am sure that there have been times of ‘stillness’ in our own lives, when the feeling and sense of ‘at-one-ness’ with God, and those around us, enable us to know deep in our being, that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Moments like that, we too want to capture. This precious moment can give us a real glimpse of hope. We do not need to climb mountains physically to experience this, but every now and then it does happen, if we allow ourselves to hear what is being said to us in the stillness of the moment; in that special place and moment which is our personal mountain top. Food for thought, eh?
Hopefully this second week of Lent will encourage us to see once again, the need and time for ‘prayer’ in our lives, and hunger for the Scriptures to nourish us. The biggest challenge is finding the time and space to do it! It is only when we, STOP and LOOK can we really LISTEN! Can we see the saving hand of God in our lives, and in the lives of our community? This silent space enables us to have that moment when we too can be changed – transfigured by hearing the words in our hearts, that we are in fact the “Beloved” of God. This ability to see and hear, causes us to reverence, respect, forgive and love each other in a renewed way even more, because we are fortified by Christ’s love…..food for the journey as companions of each other in Christ.
Let us pray……
We give thanks to God, our Father, for the glory of his transfigured Son: we are offered the invitation to reflect him as in a mirror and be continually transformed: this great offer is given to us at Baptism, confirmed in the Spirit at Confirmation, and sustained by the Bread of life, and listening to God’s Word with our bodies, our minds and our hearts. We make this prayer through Christ Our Lord. Amen
God Bless you and your families and may we remember eachother, the next time that we are held in conversation with the Lord,
OUR FAMILY PRAYER TIME………
This is a great opportunity to gather the Family in Prayer. Having a Prayer Setting really adds to and designates this time as a ‘special’ time together. You might like to have a nice coloured cloth on a coffee table, or on the centre of the Dining Room Table. You will need a candle, Crucifix, Bible …in the opened position, even at the Gospel of the Sunday, and maybe a flower. During Easter tide you might like to place some white and gold material on your devotional altar. You might like to create your own permanent ‘sacred space’ in your home, where the Word of God is open, and a small tee light within a fire proof glass, could awaken in the minds and hearts of your family of the ‘real presence’ of God in His Word. Prayer time needs to be able to engage as many of our senses as possible. The burning of some fragrant oil also can evoke in the minds of your family, ‘prayer time’. Someone in the family might like to be the leader of the intercessions, then other family members can share the prayers….everyone can be invited to join is spontaneous shared prayer…
Leader: We pray to the God of glory that we might have the strength to die to self.
That the Church might remain awake and praying, embracing dying to self as the road to eternal glory. Lord hear us. Lord graciously hear us.
That all peoples of the world be open to the salvation and glory that God offers. Lord hear us. Lord graciously hear us.
That those who cannot see through their suffering to the glory awaiting them be com¬forted by the nearness of God. Lord hear us. Lord graciously hear us.
That each of us he faithful in embracing our Lenten practices so that we might glimpse the glory of God on Easter. Lord hear us. Lord graciously hear us.
That Pope Benedict will experience, peace, happiness and contentment as he vacates the Papacy. Lord hear us. Lord graciously hear us.
That the Cardinals of the world will tune into the graced insight freely given by the Holy Spirit to choose the right person who will shepherd the global church. Lord hear us. Lord graciously hear us.
Leader: Glorious God, you make known your salvation through the presence of your transfigured Son: hear these our prayers that one day we might share in your eternal glory. We ask this through that same Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Blessing is taken from the Iona Abbey Sacramentary, Scotland.
Iona Abbey is located on the Isle of Iona, just off the Isle of Mull on the West Coast of Scotland. It is one of the oldest and most important religious centres in Western Europe. The abbey was a focal point for the spread of Christianity throughout Scotland and marks the foundation of a monastic community by St. Columba, when Iona was part of the Kingdom of Dál Riata.
1. The Cross
ALL WE SHALL TAKE IT.
2. The bread……………
ALL WE SHALL BREAK IT.
3. The pain
ALL WE SHALL BEAR IT.
4. The joy………………
ALL WE SHALL SHARE IT.
5. The Gospel……………
ALL WE SHALL LIVE IT.
6. The love…………
ALL WE SHALL GIVE IT.
7. The light……………
ALL WE SHALL CHERISH IT.
8. The darkness…………….
ALL WE SHALL PERISH IT. Amen.