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Category Archives: The Transfiguration of Jesus

Easter Sunday 2019. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. kevin.w3@bigpond.com The Resurrection, the triumph of the Father.

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Easter Sunday is with us again! Is it with a sigh of relief that we have a ‘break’ at this time of the year? Is it just another Sunday? Is it just another time of the year for the commercial world to make more money using a solemn Christian Feast to make more Dollars?

Resurrection implies new life! This is the gift we receive every morning when we wake up! Today is a totally different day from yesterday. Part of something being a gift is that someone gives, someone else receives, and there is no price tag attached. If there is a snag, it is that God gives me nothing for myself! If God gives me the gift of life today, it is because I can be a life-giving person to someone else. The Easter Liturgy celebrates the Father re breathing ‘life’ into His Son, and that ‘new life’ is to be shared among all people, and by all people.

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Easter is about hope; it is unthinkable that a Christian should even entertain the ideas of hopelessness, even when we live in a world, which thrives, and makes money on bad news! Jesus triumphed over darkness, sin and death, and in the words of St. Paul, ‘having given us Christ Jesus, will the Father not surely give us everything else?’ There is a tremendous need for people of hope in today’s world, and in today’s Church, because the doomsday prophets have never had it so good! One notable Shepherd in the Church said that we Christians are under siege! What rubbish! The whole Christian way of life has been under siege since the crucifixion of Jesus! However, Easter Sunday is the answer to those who claim that we are under siege! Jesus said, @ I am sending you out as lambs among wolves…’ So what new! Sensationalism of the moment, and it can be seen as a tactic to win favour and solace from others. St. Peter wrote these words to the early Christian community: ‘Always have an explanation to give to those who ask you the reason for the hope that you have.’ Peter had experienced, witnessed, and lived through many a failure, so his point about hope is deeply relevant. I am sure that he is not alone in this regard… surely, we can identify with him!

Easter time is a reminder of our Baptismal responsibilities. We have a very real sign of that within our Parish community with the welcoming and admission of our Elect, into full communion with the Church. We are therefore reminded strongly, that we must be a community of hospitality, a community of mission, a community of Thanksgiving. Underpinning all that, we are as St Paul’s says, ‘planted on love and built on love, so that together with all the Saints we will have the strength to grasp the breadth and the length, the height and the depth; until knowing the love of Christ, which is beyond all knowledge, we are filled with the utter fullness of God.’ Ephesians 3:18.

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Easter time in not a ‘one off time’ to celebrate Christ Our Light! Easter time offers an enormous challenge to everyone. Do we personally believe in the community, which we call the Church, to that point of wanting to really know, and care about each other? Or are we sometimes tempted to see the Sacramental life of the Church as some kind of Spiritual Service Station, where we fill up every now and then, like we do our cars at the Petrol Station? The Sacramental Community nourishes us, and we are called to nourish it by our active participation in every way possible.

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We pray that through this Easter Season, we will be stronger in our hope, lively in our love for one another, and sensitive to see, with the eyes of faith, the saving hand of God in our lives and within our community.

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Holy Thursday realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. We are the Lord’s Footwashers. kevin.w3@bigpond.com

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Jesus said, ‘If I, then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you should wash each other’s feet’.

Hospitality towards each other, is one of the most beautiful and respectful gifts that we can offer to one another. One does not have to go to some fancy, expensive Restaurant to expect genuine hospitality! There is no price tag on proper hospitality. There is an ordinary Fish and Chip Shop not far from where we live. However, it is not ordinary, it is extraordinary! Apart from the scrumptious Fish that they cook and sell, which melts in one’s mouth, and the delicious Chips made from real potatoes, and not some kind of fake potato; the respectful smiles, the welcome that customers are given, tells us that the food is prepared with an essential ingredient, which you can’t buy in Woolworths….it is called LOVE.

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The Celebration of Holy Thursday is part of a triptych; Thursday, Friday and Sunday….. That is a threefold picture of Hospitality, Deep Love and New Life.
In the Gospel reading today, we see Jesus doing an action of well-known hospitality! Washing the feet of his guests, his friends, his companions. This customary action is never just attending to cleaning feet, so that there is no dirt on the Carpet! Now, this action has more to it than meets the eye. Let’s go deep sea diving into this hospitality ritual, which Jesus, by his words and actions, has made this washing of feet……Sacramental!

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The washing of Feet cannot be seen as not connected to the Eucharist. It is connected to the real understanding of trust, humility, tenderness, respect and new life. The ritual action of the washing of the feet, is a unique connection between the one washing and the one being washed. Our feet are literally the gateway to our whole body. The way that the washing is done, is done with deep consciousness, respectful attitude and spiritual intimacy. Jesus calls us to follow his example in the fullest sense of the action, and wash each other’s feet.

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When we literally get down on our knees before someone that is a gesture of real trust! Remember, when Moses was confronted with the Angel of the Lord in the Burning Bush, Chapter 3 of the Book of Exodus? Moses was asked to take off his sandals, which was an act of trust! The angel of the Lord said that he was on Holy Ground! What made that ground Holy? The answer would seem to be that the conversation taking place on the ground……the earth from which we were made, is a ground breaking experience of communion with the Lord God…….hence, the ground and place is Holy because of it.

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The action of Jesus, was a ground breaking conversation of trust, love and service. In short, we are called to be Foot washers of the Lord! We are not called to overpower others by having Christ’s living Body subordinate to us! We are called to be genuine, real, Christ like Servants. In the new order of things, initiated by Jesus, we are cautioned not be part of a dog eat dog society, and we are not called to be ladder climbers……particularly in the Church. We are not called to be superior beings in charge of lesser beings. In the eyes of God, we are all on the ground floor……there are no top dogs, or top shelf treatment!

Thomas Merton

Holy Thursday’s message is a clarion call to all of us, to not only imitate what Jesus did in the washing of the Disciples feet, but to see Christ in those who feet we wash! This is a radical invitation because its ramifications are to turn us, and the people of the world upside down……to see other people, not as objects, but as respectful jewels within the Crown of Christ. The deep message of the washing of the feet, demands that there are no ifs and buts when it comes to acceptance of others; they must be approved of just as they are, not what we would want them to be.

The Celebration of the Lord’s Supper reaches its climax within the overwhelming dispositions that we bring to it. If we have not been washing each other’s feet in our daily life…, we have missed the boat in experiencing the full import of the Lord’s Supper, and the ongoing Mission entrusted to us.

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The Celebration of the ‘real presence’ of Jesus is three fold. We hear God’s Word full of invitations, every time that we listen, it always invites our response, which has the power to change us. We do not come to the Celebration of the Eucharist like we would go to a Service Station to fill our Cars up with Petrol, to keep us on the road! We arrive at the Celebration of the Eucharist as living members of Christ’s Body, to be nourished by His Word, from the Eucharist and from the faith community. We are then sent out to proclaim what we live through our attitudes, actions and hospitality for all…..If we leave our Hospitality for a select group of people, we have then missed the mark, and are not truly convinced that what we are Christ’s living body, and it can be world changing if we do! If it can be world changing! It must change us first!

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May our Holy Thursday Liturgy re-ignite us in understanding of the full implications of who washes the feet and whose feet are to be washed? Our celebration this evening, is the entrée for the Celebration tomorrow of the greatest sign of God’s love for us, in the Passion and Death of Jesus.

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I would like to conclude by sharing a very wise and true saying from the great St. John Chrysostom, ‘If you cannot find Christ in the beggar at the church door, you will not find him in the chalice.’

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Kevin and Shauna

Poor old Fr Kev with his constant companion: Shauna

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2nd Sunday of Lent Year C. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. ‘LISTEN TO MY SON’ NOW!!

 

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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 and his community. 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 while he was in prayer! We are told that Jesus was praying, which seemed to be quite a familiar scene to the apostles, who accompanied him. Meanwhile, it is very good to keep in mind that the mention of MOUNTAINS in Scripture is not just by chance; mountains are places of revelation, of profound stillness, within conversation and enlightenment, caused by The Divine. This time, however, something out of the ordinary happened; the veil was lifted, and they got a glimpse of the divinity of Jesus. Moses and Elijah appeared with him, and they were talking together.

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Before we go any further, let’s just pause for a moment! Often in religious art, the Transfiguration is portrayed with some distance between the Apostles and the action with Jesus. However, when we look not only at the words but into the words of Scripture, we can safely conclude that the Transfiguration happened right among them! The apostles were privy to Our Lord’s conversation with Moses and Elijah, and they were chatting about the coming Passion and Death of Jesus! Notice, that the apostles were very tired: were they dreaming? Why were they tired? Too much work to do? Or was their sleepiness a sign that there ‘faith-insight’ was getting tired? Questions like: ‘What is this following Jesus all about? Is it just too much to bear?’

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If these were some of their questions, they surely could well be some of our own questions too! So, often when we invest ourselves into a project, there are times, when it all becomes too heavy….’I just can’t go on!’ Then suddenly there is light at the end of the tunnel! There is a purpose, there is a reason, this is the truth, and it is real! We are not finished with this yet; one more aspect to take note of: Can we ask the question as to what was going on inside the apostles as they were experiencing this Transfiguration? I deliberately say THIS because in the Gospels there are other kinds of Transfigurations. In order for us to arrive at some understanding of what was going on inside the apostles at this Transfiguration, we could do well to ask ourselves ‘what has gone on inside ourselves’ during times of Transfiguration in the past? Now, if we say, ‘Oh, I am not holy enough to experience this’, that is incorrect! Look at the track record of Peter, James and John! If it was good enough for them, it is good enough for us! Was your transfiguration experience a time when your Baby was born into this world!

Was it a time through deep conversation that an inner conversion with self, had taken place, and the black hole that you were in was now filled with light? Was it a time when you were present with a precious loved one who was dying?

Then suddenly, the atmosphere in the room changes, you can feel this in your stomach, in your head, and time seems to pause, you feel that someone else is in the room…..maybe the beloved partner of the dying person, who had died years before? Maybe, if the dying person’s pet dog is on the bed during all of this, and suddenly stands up, ears pricked, and smartly walks down to the end of the bed, and lovingly watches their owner. Maybe at the same time as all of this, your family member who was dying, suddenly and momentarily moves in the bed; her face breaking into a youthful smile at her beloved who is visiting her; is that light at the end of the tunnel? Now, if you have been present in the room during this transfiguration, the feeling can be: ‘Let’s contain this renewed and warm sense of family!’ Your stomach may feel unknotted, or a warm and gentle breeze brushes past the cheeks on your face! A time when all stops; a moment of timelessness exists, the ambience within the room is gentle light………’we want to encase it, we want to hold onto this glimpse of peace, love and warmth. This can be a preparation to pass into the loving embrace of God, accompanied by the one who provoked the all-embracing smile of happiness……then, all returns to what it was, but not as it was, because we have experienced transfiguration, and we can never go back; this experience is the new normal! It does something special IN us!

The Three Chapels on Mt Tabor.

Back into the Gospel story, we see Peter, as usual, was right there with a suggestion: This scene is so beautiful in every aspect, which he wanted to build some kind of accommodation, so that they could continue to live there and contain what had happened. 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? Food for thought!

Mt.Sinai at daybreak

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 the Lord God 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.

Mt.Nebo in present day Jordan where Moses viewed the Promised Land.

The Mount of the Temptations is on the opposite side of the Valley from Mt Nebo

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 contain. 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?

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Hopefully this second week of Lent will encourage us to see once again, the need and time for ‘prayer’ in our lives, and a 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……

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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

kevin.w3@bigpond.com

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