From the Pulpit: August 6, 2017

August 6, 2017                                           TRANSFIGURATION

Transfiguration

Imagine what the transfiguration must’ve been like.

  • Jesus calls his disciples together and says, “Peter James and John come over here. we’re going to go for a walk.”
  • So dutifully they follow Jesus.
  • It’s mid-morning and really not too warm. Just a pleasant time and temperature for a mid-morning stroll.
  • However, things become a little bit more difficult. Jesus proposes that they climb up to the top of Mount Tabor.
  • Mount Tabor is it an impressive Hill in northern Galilee.
  • Actually, it is an extinct volcano.
  • No doubt, it must’ve taken a great deal of effort as Jesus and his band of three disciples begin the track to the top of Mount Tabor.
  • The climb must’ve been particularly strenuous for Peter since he was probably the eldest of those making the ascent.

Top of the Mountain

Once they arrived at the top the view must have been spectacular because they could see all of the surrounding fields green with crops.

  • Suddenly as they stood around Jesus, he began to undergo a transformation.
  • His face became as brilliant as the light of the sun while his clothes became as white and bright as radiant light, a light like they had never seen before.
  • Peter James and John could hardly believe what they seeing.
  • They must’ve been frightened.
  • As the vision continued, Jesus stood there in the middle, radiant with the glory of God, while two other figures slowly materialize.
  • Peter recognized them as Moses holding the 10 Commandments and Elijah clothed with the prophet’s mantle.

St. Peter

Saint Peter didn’t know what to say or think. However, he knew he should say something and so he blurted out, “it is good for us to be here.”

  • Not knowing exactly what he was saying, Saint Peter then continued, “wow! This is truly an awesome experience. I wish we could stay here forever. Hey, I have a great idea. I’m thinking we should set up 3 tents. There would be one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. I know they would like to stay here.”
  • Not exactly the most intelligent thing to say. However, leave it to St. Peter.
  • He was just caught up in the excitement of the moment and really didn’t think about what he was saying or why he would say such a thing.

Voice from the cloud

At this point however, the vision became much more intense.

    • A radiant cloud begins to condense over, around, and above the figures.
    • From that cloud, a mighty voice, sounding much like thunder, announces, “this is my beloved son hear him.”
    • All of this was too much for Peter, James and John and so in the terror of the moment they close their eyes fall to the ground and wait to see what would happen next.
    • Shortly thereafter, they experienced the gentle touch of somebody that they recognized.
    • Jesus says to them, “get up and don’t be afraid. Everything is OK.”
    • As they looked up he was there alone, just the way he usually appeared.
    • I suppose at this moment they weren’t sure if they were awake or asleep or what happened.
    • Then it was time to come down the mountain.
    • Peter knew the trip down would be a lot easier than climbing up. They must’ve talked about what they had seen.
    • Was it real, and what it meant.

Application

As the church throughout the ages reflected upon this moment as recorded by Saint Matthew, the church understood that the glory and majesty of God shined through the human body of Jesus.

  • It was as though the mask of humanity was unveiled and the true glory and power of Jesus, as the Son of the living God, was revealed for who he truly is.
  • Peter, James and John were privileged to see this manifestation now called Transfiguration.
  • It would sustain them in the weeks ahead when they would see Jesus crucified and killed.

Transformation

It is a subtle reminder to each of us that as disciples, baptize by water and the Spirit are slowly being transformed.

  • It is in our openness and conversion that the true power of God’s grace is able to transform our fragile human nature.
  • The transformation for most of us is the project of a lifetime.
  • Think of it this way, the power of God’s grace is transforming us into the best possible version of ourselves that we can be.
  • Grace, God’s life with in us, is transforming us into the person that God has created us to be.
  • We were created in his image and likeness and by the power of the death and resurrection of Jesus we are transformed.

Eclipse

In the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor heaven and earth came together in a magnificent manifestation of God’s presence through the body of his son Jesus.

  • In a few weeks, we will observe another celestial phenomenon.
  • Yes, you guessed it. On Monday, August 21 we will experience the solar eclipse here in Casper.
  • It will be a spectacular moment that you and I will never forget.
  • The city is estimating an additional 35,000 or more people in Casper for that event.
  • Of course, some of them will be Catholics and they will be joining us for a Mass that weekend.
  • We certainly want to be a welcoming parish and offer hospitality to all of our guests.
  • I am anticipating that there will be Catholic folks from all over the United States and perhaps from foreign countries as well.
  • In anticipation of the number of people who will be joining us for Mass that weekend, I have added an additional mass.
  • That additional mass will be Sunday evening at 6 PM.

Help

I need your help that weekend.

  • Yes, I realize that you may have guests coming to join you for that moment.
  • However, I am asking that you consider giving up several hours of your time to greet fellow Catholics from around the United States who are present for Mass.
  • We have greeters and ushers assigned for those Sunday masses. However, I am anticipating we will need additional help.
  • At Mass today I am asking you to make a commitment to help with the Masses that weekend.
  • In addition to those already scheduled, we will need additional ushers and greeters.
  • It is something that you can do to extend hospitality to our visitors. We want them to know that we as a parish community welcome those who choose to join us.
  • Additionally, I need some help with security at the church during the day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
  • Would you be willing to give several hours of time one of those days to ensure that our church is safe and secure?
  • During the night hours, we have hired a security firm to help us patrol the Church and parking lot.

As you note on the cards in the pew, I am asking you to sign up either to volunteer to help with security or to serve as an usher or greeter at mass.

  • Please take a moment and look at the card.
  • If you can help please fill out your name and telephone number and indicate where you would be able to help us out.

Conclusion

God’s presence is manifest in all of his creation. He is the Lord of the cosmos. All of reality is in his hands.

  • Today we hear how Jesus was transfigured and the glory of God shined through his physical body.
  • In a few weeks, our community will join just a handful of communities to experience the total solar eclipse.
  • I hope that you will consider making a commitment to help me out on that weekend.

With your help, we can ensure that all of our fellow Catholics are welcome as they celebrate with us the Holy Eucharist.