Father Arthur’s Homily March 8 – Let His Gaze Transform Us
2nd Sunday of Lent – Year A Gospel Matthew 17:1-9
Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother,
and led them up a high mountain by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them;
his face shone like the sun
and his clothes became white as light.
And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them,
conversing with him.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Lord, it is good that we are here.
If you wish, I will make three tents here,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, behold,
a bright cloud cast a shadow over them,
then from the cloud came a voice that said,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased;
listen to him.”
When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate
and were very much afraid.
But Jesus came and touched them, saying,
“Rise, and do not be afraid.”
And when the disciples raised their eyes,
they saw no one else but Jesus alone.
As they were coming down from the mountain,
Jesus charged them,
“Do not tell the vision to anyone
until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
Father Arthur Marat’s Homily, March 8, 2020.
My brothers and sisters, when I read today’s Gospel, I thought to myself: “What must have Peter, James and John been thinking as Jesus took them up Mount Tabor?” Certainly they walked for a long time. And I suspect that they were happy to be alone with Jesus. But Jesus did not tell them what was going to happen. They had no idea…
They had no idea that Jesus would be transfigured before them: “His face shone like the sun and His clothes became white as light.” When Peter saw Jesus conversing with Moses and Elijah, he was filled with joy and wanted to do something special. So he proposed to set up three tents. Yet, as Peter suggested this, he was struck utterly speechless and was cut off by the voice of God crying out: “This is My Beloved Son; listen to Him.” My brothers and sisters, it was as if second nature for the Apostles to listen to God. This is what the Chosen People had done in the time of Moses—they did not read, they did not watch television—no. They listened to what God had to say through Moses, His chosen servant.
No one ever talked directly with God. In fact, the Jewish people consider God’s name so holy that they do not even say it. So you can imagine with what respect the Moses approached God. When He found himself before God, Moses fell prostrate before Him. So, too, did Peter, James and John, fall prostrate as they heard the voice of God. And we can be sure that they listened intently to what God said, because they remembered this experience and it was recorded for all generations to come.
Certainly, my brothers and sisters, the three Apostles were frightened. We know this because the Gospel tells us that they were afraid. Yet, in this moment of fear, Jesus gently comes to them, touches them, and tells them “Rise and do not be afraid.” How many times in our lives do we find ourselves afraid—afraid perhaps not of conversing with God face to face, but of the events that He allows to take place in our families, at work, and in the world?
God is present in all of the events and circumstances of our lives, my brothers and sisters. He is present in the death of a child or loved one. He is present in the difficult boss. He is present in the trying teenager. God is present in every situation. But we, in our fear, are often like the three Apostles: we are too afraid to lift up our eyes and gaze upon the Lord. This is why, my brothers and sisters, Jesus comes to us and speaks to us so that we might raise our eyes, look upon His loving face, and let His gaze transform us.
In a few minutes Jesus will descend upon the altar and come to us in the Eucharist. Very soon, He will touch us and we will touch Him. Let us prepare ourselves for so great a moment, my brothers and sisters. Let us give Jesus the sacrifice of our lives, our fears, our circumstances, and as we receive Him into ourselves, let us be sure that He is Our Lord, and in Him there is nothing to fear. Amen.