Message: We ask God for spiritual sight to see reality - the reality of Jesus and his cross.
Last Sunday we saw how the ministry of angels can help us have a new mind and heart. Today, in our opening prayer, we ask God for "spiritual sight" - a new heart and mind so we can see reality as it is. In our Gospel we have an example of spiritual sight: the Transfiguration - that moment when three disciples glimpse Jesus' glory, his inner reality, who he really is and what he does for us.
Before talking about the inner reality of Jesus, I would like to make a comparison: When we look at someone's face we are seeing an external, material reality, something science can analyze - cells, chemical reactions and so on. But unless you are a dermatologist, when you look at a face, you want more than what science can provide. In that other person's eyes, their smile, the lift of the eyebrows, you want to see their inner reality. You've no doubt heard, "eyes are the window of the soul." If you deeply look in another's eye, you glimpse the soul.
Something similar applies to the Transfiguration. The Transfiguration gives us a glimpse of the inner reality of Jesus. Who is he? Everybody talks about Jesus, but who is he really?
The Transfiguration reveals some of Jesus' glory. We glimpse who Jesus is - and why he has come, what he does for us. At the conclusion Jesus orders Peter, James and John not to say anything about what happened...until the resurrection. The Transfiguration points to the cross and resurrection.
We see the cross in our first reading. God tells Abraham to take his only son and offer him in sacrifice. You might ask: Why does God put Abraham through something so horrible? It seems inhumane and people have puzzled over it for centuries.
I have not solved the puzzle, but I will say this: Like all anguish and suffering it relates to the cross. As young Isaac walks up Mount Moriah he carries something on his back - a bundle of wood. Does that remind you of someone? Someone who carries a wooden object on his back as goes to Mount Calvary?
There's something else in the sacrifice of Isaac. At the last moment God intervenes and makes things right. God the Father does not intervene to save Jesus from death, but he does something even greater. He raises Jesus from the dead. The Transfiguration prepares Peter, James and John for the cross - and resurrection.
I'll speak more about the cross in this homily series. The big question is how we make some sense of all the suffering in the world and in our own lives. I obviously do not have a quick, easy answer. At best we can learn from saints - good men and women - how they dealt with suffering. I would like to tell you about a man who has given an impressive witness. He's the one who wrote the little book - A Lenten Pilgrimage: Archbishop Peter Sartain.
Many of you know Archbishop Sartain had a serious operation in January which involved removing two cervical vertebrae. I talked to a guy who had a similar operation and he told me he went through five years of terrible pain before the operation. Archbishop Sartain never let on he was suffering so much. He always seemed upbeat and happy. Believe me, if I was going through that I would let everyone know. When I was in Peru I experienced two days days of intense back pain. I moaned to everyone. I complained for weeks, even after the pain went away. That was 25 years ago and I am still talking about it today!
Archbishop Sartain didn't take that approach. It's not a matter of suffering in silence. Last week at the Rite of Election he spoke about trials and temptations. When they come, he said, we should say, "Praise God."
And there's a bonus: If we say, "Praise God." The devil flees. He can't stand to hear God praised - and he leaves.
To praise God in all circumstance, we need spiritual sight - a new mind and heart. We live in a world of illusion - of deception and outright lies. We can easily go along with the illusions, but deep down we want the truth; we want to see the inner reality: Not to just see the surface, not just someone's face but what the face reveals. And above all we want spiritual sight to see Jesus and his cross. Only in the cross can we make some sense out of suffering, trials and temptations.
More about that next week: I will try to address the difficult issue of violence in the Bible - and what it means in relation to the cross. Today we ask God for spiritual sight to see the reality of Jesus and his cross. Let's go back to the initial prayer:
Nourish us inwardly by your word,
That, with spiritual sight made pure,
We may rejoice to behold your glory.
From Archives (Year B homilies for 2nd Sunday of Lent):
Homilies for Second Sunday of Lent ("Transfiguration Sunday")
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
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Fr. Brad's Homilies
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru
2015 Peru Mission Trip
Blessing the New Home of Felipe & Maria
with gratitude to Mary Bloom Center donors