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Daily Archives: March 8, 2017

2nd Sunday Year A, 2017. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. Transfiguration as it was and as it is……

 Transfiguration as it was and as it is……

 2nd Sunday of Lent year A 8

Today’s Gospel is about the Transfiguration of Jesus. We have heard it so many times before but it contains an evergreen meaning for us every time we reflect upon it. At a glance, we see in this story that the veil was lifted very slightly to give the apostles a fleeting glimpse into the nature of Jesus. He was of course, human and therefore, until now, their only experiences of Him had been within that human context. However, this was different!

Peter, James and John were close friends of Jesus, and it appears, that they were the ones who seemed to accompany Him. At the human level, they would claim to know Him well, to know how He thought and to be familiar with His actions. In this situation however, there was something different. In the presence of such a sacred experience, the natural human reaction of the apostles was to be afraid … even terrified … to the extent that they covered their faces. The face of Jesus became like a mirror, reflecting back the glory of the Father to them. The appearance of Moses as the Lawgiver, and Elijah as the Prophet, was enormously significant, because Jesus had announced that His mission was to fulfil the Law and the Prophets.

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Being afraid in the presence of the ‘Sacred’ was not an uncommon experience. Remember when the Lord God in Exodus, chapter 3 asked Moses to be the instrument and leader in the deliverance of the chosen people from slavery? Moses was not exactly over the moon about the prospect; in fact, he too was afraid. Then, on Mt. Sinai, Moses hid his face while in the presence of God during that precious moment when God initiated the great Covenant/Marriage Contract with his people … ”I will be your God and you shall be my people.” Again, remember when Our Lady received a surprise visit from the Angel Gabriel at the Annunciation? She too was disturbed and afraid. However, the Angel sensed her agitation and calmed her by saying … “Do not be afraid, you have won God’s favour”.

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There are times in our own lives when we have experienced a special closeness to God and it is not unusual to be afraid. So, when this happens, let us remember that we are in “good company”. It has happened to others before, and it will happen to lots of others in the future.

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Let us now go back to the Mount of the Transfiguration. When the vision was over and Moses and Elijah had gone, and the brilliance was dimmed, the apostles opened their eyes (and these words are powerfully significant) and they saw no one but only Jesus. Jesus and His companions had to come down from the Mountain where mystically they would wish that the experience continued forever. However, the Life and Mission of Jesus and His Disciples had to continue, leading to the Cross and Resurrection.

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We are not finished with what happened on Mt.Tabor yet……We must remember that the Apostles were not watching the Transfiguration on a stage! They were right in it; this moment wrapped them within a mantle of ‘awe, wonder, fright and thanksgiving’. Now, let’s be deeply curious, let us re-enter those moments in our own lives when we have been within a moment of wonder! A moment of transfiguration, may I say? The nuances within Matthew’s Transfiguration are as real in the here and now, as they were back then. Let’s go deep sea diving into the Scriptures! Throughout the Scriptures, Mountains are places of Revelation, they are the place of ‘wonder moments’ they are the places where the reality of Heaven is gently meshed into the reality on Earth. This experience, in Celtic Spirituality is often called a ‘thin moment’ or it happens in a ‘thin place’. The Celtic name for this experience may be new to you, but the experience, I’m sure is not. Let’s think it through; Have you had experiences in your life where unexpectedly, you have been gently caught up in moment in which you may have felt a bit terrified, but then you slowly warm to the moment as the moment warms to you; and then you ‘know’ that the Lord, an Angel, or a departed member of your family is very close to you? Please think back in your life to such moments of a ‘glimpse’ or eternal rapture. You might ask, in what part of your body did you feel this? It would seem, according to Celtic tradition that we feel these things in the pit of our stomach…….called a gut feeling! The moment might not be long, in terms of seconds or minutes, but the result within us stays forever. Like the Apostles in today’s Gospel, they wanted to contain that experience when Jesus was transfigured and they too, may I add, were transfigured. They suggested in building places to guard and acknowledge that hollowed place and experience. For us too, we would like that holistic experience to continue. The truth is, that it can continue, whenever we ‘still ourselves’ and re member and re visit that experience.

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Moments of Transfiguration for us do happen, and they are part of the mystical experience of Christianity. Christianity is a mystical religion! It is not just the following of rules, and the acting out of rituals and rubrics. We as a community, act out mystical experiences in and through Liturgy; the Celebration of the Eucharist is the summit and source of community worship.

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What do Transfiguration moments, or thin moments do for us? It seems that one of the deepest results is the deepening of our faith; in this instance, I use the word faith meaning INSIGHT! That is, the ability to see the saving hand of God at work! This happened for the Apostles, this happened for Jesus while in prayer, this happens for us as well. I also might add, that while we pray The Lord’s Prayer, especially where we say ‘thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven’ it is a statement about our Christian Mission, namely in bringing Heaven to Earth! Transfiguration moments or thin moments make present the Kingdom here but not yet complete, in short, and Eschatological moment.

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During this time of Lent, let us make time to go up our own Mountain and enter into stillness. Let God’s powerful Word speak to our hearts … in the loving silence of our room, church, garden, or in the ‘bush’ or by the sea. May those moments be times of re-transfiguration, giving us energy and understanding of our mission in the here and now. In doing this, we will all be journeying together in our earthly Pilgrimage to the Father, cherishing glimpses of thin moments when we brush against the membrane, which gently separates us from Heaven.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS / PERSONAL REFLECTION QUESTIONS.

    • How would you define prayer in one sentence? In your own words perhaps you could start like this….I think that prayer is……..
    • Do you feel that your way of praying has changed as you have grown older and wiser? If it has, would you like to tell us?
    • From your past and perhaps even now, would you like to talk about what your prayer is based on? e.g. Love, Thanksgiving, Praise, Fear.
    • Jesus found it necessary to go off into quiet places to pray: when do you feel the need to pray?
    • What are some of your difficulties in trying to pray?
    • When was your first Transfiguration experience? Where was it and what happened? What did that experience mean for you and do for you?
    • Where have you experienced ‘thin’ moments? Was it on top of Mt.Sinai? Was it when you were close to the tomb of a Saint? Was it in the central White Tower of London, in the Chapel of St.Peter ad vincula where the bones of hundreds of Martyrs are plastered in its walls?
    • Other mystical Religions also have ‘thin’ moments and places; have you experienced some of those? 

 

Fr Kevin Walsh

Sydney. Australia

Email: kevin.w3@bigpond.com Web:https://realhomilies.wordpress.com/

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2nd Sunday of Lent Year A, 2017. A Gospel Reflection from Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. LISTENING TO JESUS.

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LISTENING TO JESUS 

St Augustine is one of the most famous saints of the Church. Early in his life he was drawn to the person of Jesus Christ and to the Christian way of life. But for a long time both lust and pride got in the way of his taking the plunge and getting baptised. Eventually, however, both he and his fifteen year old son, born out of marriage but named Adeodatus (meaning Gift of God), were baptised together in the Church of Milan. This happened on April 25th, 387.

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Augustine has recorded in his memoirs called the Confessions two religious experiences which transformed his attitudes and his whole way of life. One has to do with a text from the bible, the other with music.

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In the first incident, Augustine has thrown himself under a fig tree. He is depressed to the point of tears at the remembrance of his sins. He asks God how much longer can God put up with him. Then suddenly from a house near by, he hears the voice of a child calling out over and over again, ‘Tolle, lege! Take it up, read it! Take it up, read it!’ Immediately Augustine stops crying, his whole face lights up, and he goes to the bible to take and read the first words he finds there. On opening the book his eyes fall on these words of St Paul: ‘Let us conduct ourselves properly, as people who live in the light of day – no orgies or drunkenness, no immorality or indecency, no fighting or jealousy. But take up the weapons of the Lord Jesus Christ, and stop paying attention to your sinful nature and satisfying its desires’ (Letter to the Romans 13:12-13). The message is overpowering. He can resist the Lord no longer.

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Some time later his determination to live as a Christian is reinforced by a second experience. This time it’is the singing of the Christians in the church at Milan. He remembers the deep impression the singing made on him. He says to God in his memoirs: ‘I wept at the beauty of your hymns and canticles, and was powerfully moved at the sweet sound of your [people] singing. These sounds flowed into my ears and truth streamed into my heart.’ Through the grace of God coming to Augustine in those two experiences, he was changed, transformed, transfigured. He became a new person, and later a priest, bishop, and writer. On a wall of his house he had the following sentence written in large letters: ‘Here we do not speak evil of anyone.’

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It’s obvious from the gospels that people around Jesus expected him to change all kinds of situations. So they brought him their sick, their crippled, their mentally disturbed, their children, and their other worries. He healed some. He comforted and supported others. But as a general rule Jesus did not usher in an age of instant, total, and permanent change of situations. The grass did not grow any greener. The trees did not grow bigger fruits. The wheat in the fields did not yield bigger crops. The rain did not fall more abundantly. The sun did not shine any brighter. And not every sick person he met went home feeling better.

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But some changes did occur, changes in people themselves, including the changes that came over Jesus himself first of all. There on the top of the mountain he begins to shine like the sun with the splendour and glory of God. In his new condition, he receives encouragement from those great spokespersons for God, Moses and Elijah. In effect they tell him: ‘Keep doing your good work. keep your mission going. Even if it leads to the agony of the cross, it will end in glory, the glory you are now experiencing.’

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Change comes over the friends of Jesus, Peter, James and John as well, who have seen the change in Jesus and who are awe-struck, puzzled and perplexed by it. The change that happens to them is deepened when they hear God speaking to them in the voice from the cloud: ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour. Listen to him!’ So God is saying to them: ‘Do what he tells you. Live his teachings.’ From that moment those first friends of Jesus see him in a new light. They take him more seriously as messenger of God and saviour. They also understand that a new world, a better world, must start with them, must start with their heeding that message of God: ‘Listen to Jesus!’

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‘Listen to Jesus!’ That’s a message for you and me too. Is there, e.g. someone right now who is driving us crazy? Is there someone we are fighting? Is there some group we are experiencing in a negative way? How would Jesus see them? How does Jesus see them? What would Jesus do? What words of his can help? What do we hear him saying to us?

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‘Listen to Jesus!’ Can we do that especially during our holy communion today, when he visits us as our light and strength, visiting us to change us for the better? Only if we change and become better people can we hope to rise with him to a new, transformed and glorious life. In our holy communion with him today, then, may he influence us to overcome all fear and indifference, all selfishness and laziness, all harshness and hardness of heart. In fact, to overcome anything and everything that may be stopping us from walking with him along the road to Jerusalem and listening to him along the way!

22nd Sunday 16

bgleesoncp@gmail.com

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