Do you need a transfiguration?

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Homily for the Second Sunday of Lent
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

Who needs a transfiguration?
Not a transfusion but a transfiguration?

Although in some ways, a transfiguration might be
just the kind of transfusion you and I need!

Would any one of us turn down an offer
to go up to a mountaintop to spend some time with Jesus?

Isn’t there something happening (or not happening)
in your life and in mine that would draw us up a mountain
if we knew we could sit down at the top and talk to the Lord
and tell him our troubles and ask him a few questions?

As members of a Church sometimes tripping over itself
to survive shifting demographics and shrinking numbers
while still grieving the abuse of its own children,
who wouldn’t want to go on a hike and have a talk with Jesus,
just to make sure he’s still with us?

In a nation increasingly known more by its acrimonious divisions
than the E pluribus unum found in its motto,
who wouldn’t be grateful for the close company of Jesus,
our refuge and shelter from bitter judgment and resentment?

In a world where it seems we’re often expected to climb sheer walls
without a safety line,
who wouldn’t want Jesus as a guide to help negotiate
the heights, the ravines and the crevices of life’s landscape?

We could all use a transfiguration and -
as unique, miraculous and dazzling as the scene in the gospel is -
I don’t believe it’s beyond our grasp.

The story begins with Jesus taking his friends away by themselves.

Well, you can be sure there’s not a morning, noon or night
when Jesus doesn’t invite you, doesn’t invite me,
to stop; to put aside my work;
to take a deep breath (or 4 or 5 deep breaths…);
to step outside the day-to-day; to walk with him;
to get away from it all; to sit with him, to settle down;
to let things go quiet, inside and out…
to be still… and to know that he is there… with me…
because that’s where he always is and always wants to be...

How Jesus might reveal himself to you, to me, in such a moment
might be less dazzling than in the gospel scene
but we can be sure he does invite us to such a time and place,
to be with him in the quiet and in the stillness
precisely so that we can come to see him more clearly,
to love him more dearly,
and to follow him more nearly…

The Lord wants very much to be more than just an acquaintance of ours,
more than just an occasional friend we go to
-- when we need something.

In the gospel story, Peter is terrified about what’s happening
and we, ourselves, might fear being still in God’s presence
because we think there’s something we need to do,
something we're supposed to do,
maybe something we don’t understand or know how to do.

But in prayer, most of the work is God’s work.

The question of what I need to do in prayer is simple:
will I invite, will I welcome God
to do what he wants to do in my life?
to speak what he wants to speak in my heart?
to help me understand what he wants me to know?
to heal and shape me to be the person he made me to be?
to forgive me so that I might be more free in his presence?

Jesus brought Peter, James and John up the mountain
to get to know him better.
Morning, noon and night, Jesus invites you and me to do the same.
He invites us to bring with us whatever burdens and troubles us
and he’s more than willing to help us carry what weighs us down.

He invites and takes us aside from the day-to-day
precisely to refresh our faith and trust in him
especially when people and things around us lead us to doubt.

He knows it’s not always easy for us
to step off the merry-go-rounds of our lives
to sit and be still with him --
but he is patient and understanding
and waits for us to catch our breath…

He calls us to hike up the mountains of our lives with him
because from all eternity he has known each one of us, by name,
and wants each one of us
to see him more clearly, to love him more dearly,
to follow him more nearly… day by day by day…

Lent is a season set aside for just this kind of getting-away-with-Jesus.
Through fasting that leads us to prayer
and through prayer that leads us to serve the poor,
the Lord draws close to us and invites us to draw closer to him.

In the whole week there is no moment of greater intimacy with Christ
than when we take a seat at his table here,
listen to his voice in the scripture
and share in the sacrifice and sacrament
of his Body and Blood in the Eucharist.

And on the other six days of the week, day by day,
he calls us aside to walk with him, to sit with him,
to be still in his presence and to love him more dearly,
day by day…

Day by day, day by day,
O, dear Lord, three things I pray:
to see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly,
follow thee more nearly, day by day! 


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  1. Fr. Fleming,

    I believe all parishes in the archdiocese were given videotaped appeal from Cardinal Sean to play as the homily. This is the second time this year, to my knowledge, that Holy Family has "opted out" of seeing and hearing the cardinal directly speak to his people. Is there a specific reason Cardinal Sean's tapes aren't played?


  2. Some pastors play the tapes or videos and others do not.

    The only time I've ever played a tape or video as a homily was last year for the Catholics Come Home program.

  3. How sad that your parishioners virtually never get the chance to connect with their cardinal archbishop. He gave a good talk. Perhaps you could consider playing the tape and letting the parishioners read your homily through a bulletin insert. Surely if Cardinal Sean distributes a tape, he hopes that he will be heard.


  4. I would be up that mountain SO FAST if I knew I would be meeting with the Lord and could ask him a few questions...

    well, I DO try to meet with the Lord, every day, especially in the morning on the stressful, crowded bus on my way to work...
    it is really hard at this time, but this is one of the times when I especially need the Lord-
    I need him ALL of the time, but at the beginning of each day especially, for me.
    Getting through each night is hard and then getting through each day-
    equally difficult.
    I especially pray right before I go to sleep at night and then before I begin my day in the morning-
    oh, God, please help me to better find you DURING my days, and especially to take a deep breath (or two, or three... )
    (I often feel like I spend a lot of my days holding my breath)

    thank you, Concord Pastor, for this homily and for your written AND recorded versions of it.

  5. Thanks . Great homily.
    "something we're supposed to do,
    maybe something we don’t understand or know how to do."

    Ah there's the rub !! How to blog about abc ....xyz when I'm in conflict with the prevailing church teaching. Examen number .......... and still I don't know..
    Keep praying did I hear you say ?? :-)) For sure..
    Blessings and thanks for being here.

  6. Loved the "Day by Day." I haven't been able to get the audios on your homilies for the last couple of weeks. Somehow the problem seems to have self-corrected. I wanted to hear this one especially. I have always loved "Godspell" and "Day by Day" in particular. I wasn't disappointed!



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