Being ready for transfiguration moments: A homily for the Second Sunday of Lent (A)

MayoI have to tell you that it’s been a long week. I was out late on Friday, then got called to the hospital int he night. Of course yesterday was an early day; had a running event on the east side in the morning, then over 100 kids were here on retreat preparing for their first communion. I finished with that around 12:30, then had a party, then a marriage prep. Then I looked at the clock: 3:45pm, less than an hour before confessions and Mass. Plenty of time to write a homily. OK, thought I, I will be able to concentrate better in the rectory. So I went to the house.  Then I took a nap. Woke up from the nap. 4:10.  Still 20 minutes to write a sermon. So I made a sandwich.  Then God gave me the topic of my sermon. Mayonnaise.

Mayonnaise is a wonderful thing. I lived about ten years of my life without it, until one day in 1997 when my family and I went to Subway.  The sandwich artists always thought I was an odd one because I would always order just turkey on bread, nothing else. But that day in 1997, my parents insisted I try something new. So I tried mayonnaise.  My life has not been the same since. I wish I could have those ten years back.  My eyes were opened that day…to the beauty, the tastiness, the wonder of mayonnaise.

This is KIND OF like the transfiguration.  We sometimes misunderstand the transfiguration. We think that all of the sudden, Jesus changed and became grandiose, awesome, majestic, glorious. But the reality is, or course, that Jesus has always been grandiose, awesome, majestic, and glorious. What happened at the transfiguration is that Peter, James and John finally had the eyes to see it, they finally recognized it!  For the first time they understood how amazing Jesus really is. Their eyes were opened.  Just like me and mayo; mayo has always been awesome, long before I ever tasted it, and it will always be awesome.  It just took me until 1997 to recognize mayo in all its glory.

We all need moments of transfiguration, moments when we come to see Jesus more clearly, more fully–moments where we grasp some aspect of Jesus, some part of him that we never understood before. There is a song writer named Bob Dylan. Many years ago, he was in a motorcycle accident. He almost died. But somehow, he survived. He found Christ after his accident. He said his motorcycle accident was his “transfiguration.” He was changed forever, just as Peter, James and John were changed forever in their transfiguration moment. Maybe you have had a near-death experience in your life, like Bob Dylan. There are smaller transfiguration moments, everyday kinds of moments that can change us just as much.  Sometimes when I read the bible, I read a passage I have read a hundred times before, but I see something new. That is a transfiguration moment. Or when a child in our school says something profound that I never considered–that is a transfiguration moment.

God gives us transfiguration moments every day–moments when we see God in new ways! The Gospel gives us two ways to be ready for these moments: to listen to God (“this is my beloved son, listen to him”), and to look at God (“after this moment, they saw nothing but Jeuss”).

Listen to Jesus.  So many people listen to Oprah, Dr. Phil, self-help books, soothsayers, horoscopes, facebook feeds.  I don’t have a bone to pick with any of those things, except to say this: what God has to say is infinitely more important!  And yet how often we neglect to listen to Jesus.  We need to listen to his voice–in the bible, in the mass, in our catechism classes, in our children, parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters. Jesus is always talking! We need to be listening!

And we must look for God. Peter, James, and John–after the transfiguration–they saw nothing but Jesus. We should see Jesus everywhere! It’s a beautiful day–it’s Jesus! We need to see Jesus in our children, parents, brothers, sisters, in the difficult people, in those we dislike, in the waiter, in the teacher, in the outcast, in the elderly, in the babies, the immigrants, the unborn–JESUS IS EVERYWHERE!

If we keep our eyes and ears open, and our hearts, we will have transfiguration moments every day–we will find Jesus everywhere, we will behold his glory, we will recognize him in new ways every day, we will see a new part of his glory, and we will be ready for the ultimate transfiguration–when we who are faithful go to heaven and see God face to face, and see him in his fullness, understand everything, love him totally.  Let’s practice now.