Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization

"Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization"

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Homily Second Sunday of Lent 4 March 2007

While I was in college seminary at the Josephinum in Columbus…
I used to serve at the celebration of the Tridentine Mass
at Holy Family Parish in downtown.
It was an incredibly beautiful church.
Describe…windows, images, organ, etc…
The church had a unique reredos behind its altar.
The central figure was a statue of Christ in glory,
wrapped in brilliant white robes.
On one side of Him was the statue of Moses,
holding the two stone tablets of the Law: the Ten Commandments.
On the other side was the statue of Elijah.
The Pastor explain to us that it was extremely rare
to have an altarpiece depicting the Transfiguration…
and he was certainly proud of his church.
As we reflect on the beautiful and intriguing story of Jesus’ Transfiguration…
we see the great figures of the Old Testament.
Moses represents the tradition of the Jewish Law.
Elijah represents the traditions of the Prophets.
All the ancient writings and teachings of the Old Testament
prepared the way for the coming of Jesus Christ.
As people of faith, we read the Old Testament
and see in it the great and mysterious plan of God’s saving love,
which reaches its fulfillment in the Paschal Mystery:
the birth, life, passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
In this awesome and holy moment of the Transfiguration,
all three persons of the Triune God are manifest.
God our Loving Father is present as His voice is heard:
"This is my beloved Son; listen to Him."
Jesus the Son is present as He reveals His glory to the Apostles.
The Holy Spirit is present in the cloud, which overshadows Jesus.
Notice that, while He had many disciples,
and 12 Apostles, who were His close followers,
Jesus takes with Him up the mountain only Peter, James, and John.
For this moment, He includes only his most intimate companions.
These same three are with Jesus
at the moment of His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.
It is John in particular who remain at the Cross.
It is Peter to whom Jesus entrusts His Church.
These are surely Jesus’ dearest co-workers, students, and friends.

Upon seeing the splendor of the transfigured Christ,
Peter is naturally a bit confused,
and does not know what he is saying.
He cries out to Jesus:
"Master, it is good for us to be here!"
We, the servants and handmaids of the Lord,
who this day are privileged to partake
of the Holy Body and Blood of the Risen Christ,
can join our hearts and voices to that of Peter,
the rock on whom our Church is built,
and ourselves cry out in joy:
"Lord, it is good for us to be here!"
In this Mass, the words of the Law and the Prophets are proclaimed to us.
And so, it is good for us to be here!
In this Mass, the Trinity is present as at the Transfiguration.
Our prayer is addressed to the Father,
as the Holy Spirit overshadows the gifts we present,
transforming them into the Body and Blood of the Son.
And so, it is good for us to be here!

In this Mass, we are surrounded by
Jesus’ intimate companions, the company of Apostles,
by His holy Mother,
by armies of martyrs,
and by the choirs of angels,
as our liturgy is united to their ceaseless heavenly worship.
And so, it is good for us to be here!

After Jesus reveals the overwhelming splendor of His glory
to the three Apostles,
they go down the mountain together
to resume their ministry among the people.
The time has not yet come for Jesus to be glorified.
Glory awaits Him.
Yet suffering faces Him first.
Before He rises to eternal and everlasting glory,
Jesus will first undergo dreadful and unimaginable suffering.
Before He goes to prepare a place for us in his Father’s kingdom,
He will first obey His Father’s will,
taking our place in the plan of redemption
bearing the weight of every human sin,
and every sorrow to which sin gives birth.
Before He rises to life on the third day,
the Author of Life will be put to death by his own creation.
Before He takes his place on the throne of His glory,
He will first wear a crown of thorns
and a mock robe of purple.
Before He sits at the right hand of His Father,
He will first grant pardon to a thief
crucified on a cross at the right side of His own.
So it is for us, who long for the joy and glory of our eternal reward.
Glory awaits us if we are faithful.
Yet suffering faces us here and now.
We endure the daily sufferings of human life…
with our hearts set on our true heavenly home…
where our bodies will be changed to be like Christ’s glorified body.
Notice that Peter wants to build three tents,
so that they may all remain together
in the glory of the mountaintop experience.
We cannot even remain here in the loving presence of Jesus,
who has come to dwell among us…
or, as the ancient Greek and Hebrew literally say…
He who has come to "pitch his tent" among us.
We go forth from this Mass as God’s people
to live the truth of our faith in the world around us…
to toil for the sake of Christ.
In our experience of living our faith,
our reading of Scripture and study of the Catechism,
our daily prayer,
our service to the poor…
in all this…"It is good for us to be here!"
For to be part of the Holy Church…
to be Catholic…
to toil for Christ…
is truly wonderful!
As our Lenten journey will reach its fulfillment in Easter glory…
so may our lives of faith bear fruit in eternal life…
when in Heaven we shall rejoice and say:
"Lord, it is very good that we are here!"

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