8 March 20202 Lent

Homily from Father James Gilhooley
2 Lent
Second Sunday of Lent - Matthew 17:1-9
A child saw a dust-covered book. He asked what it was. His father replied, "That's God's book - the Bible." The boy replied, "You better return it to God because nobody here reads it." If our Bible is in good shape, we are not.
The Transfiguration was among the very few exhilarating moments in the career of Jesus. His was hardly a cake walk. It was one tough existence. We have a nasty habit of confining His horror moments to His last days. That judgment comes from not reading the Gospels.
The Transfiguration is so familiar to all of us that it has lost its original bang. We have to take off our wraparound sun- glasses. The scales of over-exposure must be peeled from our eyes in order to take a fresh look.
Our Leader was finishing an eight month tour of one night stands in the provincial towns of Galilee. He was eating nothing but junk food at greasy spoons. He considered Himself lucky when He got it. He was sweltering in the 100 plus degree heat and freezing at night under the stars. He was not sleeping. He was staying one step ahead of the cops. His audiences were receiving Him coldly.
Shortly before this account opens, the Teacher had told the twelve of His approaching death. They went into a downer. They had thought the glory days were coming. They had visions of twenty year service and retirement as monsignors on pension, clergy discounts, work on their golf swing, etc. And now this announcement. Who needed it?
Then Jesus took them on a three day forced march southward from northern Palestine. He had to wear a no-nonsense face. He feared a mutiny or suspected they would slip away after dark. That they did not reveals the love that already bound the apostles to Him. For them Jesus was Teilhard's smile of God.
Exhausted, they wound up at Mount Tabor situated near Jesus' hometown of Nazareth. The mountain runs up about 1800 feet. It is almost a straight ascent. When I was there, tourist buses could not reach the top. One had to go up in an eight cylinder auto. Imagine the physical condition of Jesus. As a boy said to me, "Jesus was no wimp."
He loved mountain tops. They brought Him closer to His Father. Christ elected Peter, James, and John to join Him. The other nine, left at the base camp, were happy they had not been drafted. They were looking for a shady tree, a cool breeze, and a stream to do laundry and chill red wine. They needled the three drafted ones with the message, "Tell us about it tomorrow, fellows."
Their clothes sticking to their skin, the four finally got to the top about 4 PM. They were running on empty. The apostles had one thought: sleep. Jesus chose to pray. As Peter climbed into his sleeping bag, he mumbled, "Everyone has his own idea of a good time." In the early AM hours, the mountain top exploded as though hit by a nuclear weapon. The apostles were basket cases. Their Employer, "was transfigured before their eyes." He had removed His disguise. This was no carpenter. This was God. This was His Big Bang.
When Jesus put on a show, it was not low budget. The Big Bang must have been something spectacular. He deserved Oscar, Tony, and Emmy awards for best show on a mountain top ever.
The apostles were witnessing Moses and Elijah passing on the torch to their Leader. The Father was saying to Christ's followers, "You have been brought up to listen to Moses, Elijah, and their peers. Up to this point, they were my advance men. But now it is my Son you will listen to. He is numero uno. Him I appoint as your new Commander in Chief."
Next day Peter, James, and John came down that mountain jumping from rock to rock with the agility of boys. They were on a high. Their Jesus had proved to be a big winner. Their arduous climb in the sauna heat had paid off.
Heaven for them now would be forever spelled h-o-m-e. We move into the second week of Lent. And, if you are off to a good start, bravo. Like His apostles, the Teacher has much to tell you at the mountain top. If you have yet to begin the climb, you can play catch-up. Jesus will toss you a rope and pull you up.
Reflect on Elizabeth Vanek: "The Transfiguration is not just an indication of Christ's divinity; it also reveals our potential to become divine." We can achieve "deification." Blow the dust off your Bible. Don't allow it to be the least read best seller of all time. Be a Bible reader, says Kenneth Woodward, and not just a Bible owner. 

Homily from Father Joseph Pellegrino
2 Lent
Second Sunday of Lent: Insufficient, Inadequate, Incomplete or a Life Worth Living?
"This is my Beloved Son, Listen to Him!" The voice on the Mountain of the Transfiguration, the voice of God the Father was not speaking to Jesus who had radiated His Divinity. It was not speaking to Moses, who had come to discuss the Word of God in the Law with the Word of God in the Flesh. It was not speaking to Elijah who was there to discuss the Word of God in the Prophets with the Word of God standing before him. No, "This is my Beloved Son, Listen to Him," was directed to the disciples Peter, James and John. The voice was directed to the disciples, Sue and Mary, Fred and Chris. The voice was directed to each of us.
Those on that mountain had been discussing the Plan, God's plan for the salvation of humankind, the return of humankind to God. The Word of God Become Flesh would offer His Flesh on the Cross to begin the Plan. The disciples, who listen to Him, will continue the Plan until God's will is complete. We will continue the Plan, at least if we are willing to embrace a Life Worth Living.
We have been called to be Christians. We have been called to follow Christ in every aspect of our lives, until our part in the Plan is complete.
Anything less, is insufficient, inadequate, incomplete.
Perhaps, God has called you to the sacrament of marriage. Do not just love your husband, your wife the way every other man or woman in the world loves her husband or his wife. Insufficient, inadequate, incomplete. Love your husband; love your wife the way that Jesus loves us, on the Cross, at the Resurrection. Love with sacrificial love. Love with life giving love. Put him first, put her first, and let the rest of the world experience Christ in your love. You are far more than a couple whom biology, necessity, and pheromones have brought together. No, you are called to be part of the Big Picture, the Plan for humankind's return to God. Be the Light on the Mountain, show the world the way that Christian Love transforms a house into a home, into a little Church.
Maybe you have been called to be a parent, or parents. Do not just take care of your children. Insufficient. Inadequate. Incomplete. You and your husband or wife made your children, or perhaps their biological parents who gave them to you through an agency. However, God also made them. They were created by God to bring a new reflection of His Love to the World. They have spiritual potential beyond our ability to imagine. Do not let them waste their potential. Do not train them to waste their lives. Teach them to make God's love their Center, their reason for being. Do this by the way you live your lives, as well as by the way you pray. Challenge your children to embrace a Life Worth Living.
Perhaps you are not called to marriage or to parenthood, but live as a single man or woman embracing a career. Whether you are married or single, do not just go to work to make money. There are people there in that office, on that job site, in that hospital room, doctors office, law firm, wherever, there are people there who are longing for God, even if they do not know why their lives are so desperate, so meaningless. Do not just go to work. Bring Christ to work. Work as a Christian. Treat others with the Kindness that was the real magnet that drew others to Jesus. Let others see that you live the values you profess. Anything other than that is just wasting your time for the sake of making money. You are so much more than that. You are so much better than that.
Perhaps your careers are over, your children are raising your grandchildren and perhaps even those are in college now. Perhaps age and sickness have reduced what you can physically do. Perhaps you are tempted to say to yourself, "I've done my best to complete what God wants from me in life. I'm done now. I've done my part." Incomplete! Your life is not over until it is over. How do you know what God's plans are for you?  Maybe there is that one person you are going to visit to cheer up this week who will finally embrace Christ. How do you know what God's plans are for you? Maybe there is that one prayer you will say today that will convince someone to give in to Grace, to change his or her life, to turn to God.  The race is not over until we cross the finish line of life. Only then are we able to embrace the Life of Christ. 
God decides what the Big Picture, the Plan of our lives is, not us. Do I have the right to say, "I've been a priest for 43 years.  I've done my part. It is time to coast into the finish line." No way! That is telling God that the past is all He is going to get from me. That is telling God that I will decide what the plan is for me, not Him. We have to run the race to the finish.  Back in 1982, I was competing in the Fun and Sun Run, a 10K or 6.2-mile race in Clearwater. I had recently broken the 39 minute mark in the Strawberry Run in Plant City and felt I could drop another minute. I was right on the edge of receiving trophies for being one of the top three in my age division. So I went out of the starting line fast, only a bit too fast. I should have gone by that first mile mark at 6 minutes and 20 seconds. I went by it at 6. I kept up my pace and was doing great, well ahead of just about everyone in my age group, until I hit the 6 mile mark. Then, with only two tenths of a mile to go, my body said, "Time to call it a day." It shut down. I hit the wall. And people started passing me, and passing me, and I ended up tenth in my age division, fortunate to have finished. Well, I cannot do that with my life. I cannot be satisfied with the first six miles; I have to sprint to the finish. And it is the same for all of you who are completing their work lives, or who are senior citizens. We have to finish our part in His Plan. Anything else is insufficient, inadequate, incomplete.
"But," you say, "I have not run a very good race. I have had parts of my life where I gave up, gave myself over to Life without Christ." Do not look back! God has forgiven you; you need to forgive yourselves. Do not look back. Remember what happened to Lot's wife. She looked back at Sodom and Gomorrah, those cities of sin. Then she was frozen in her place, turned into a pillar of salt and rock. That is what happens to us when we look back at the sins of our lives. We become petrified, pillars of rock that can no longer move forward. God forgives us so we can move forward. He forgives us so we can assume the role he has for each of us in His Plan.
Young people. Do not waste your lives! You do not exist for the sake of Middle School and High School and College and Grad School. Do not sell yourselves short, infinitely short. You were created to be part of God's Plan. Look for the Big Picture. God has a role for you in His Plan for humankind. "This is my Son, my Beloved, Listen to Him." Listen to Jesus. So, you are all upset, tied up in a knot, because your girlfriend or boyfriend dumped you, or because you knew that you needed to dump him or her. Life is so much more than this. Or you are all upset because you did not make the team, or the college. God, obviously, has other things in store. Look for the Big Picture. You were created to lead others in the quest for meaning, in the quest for Christ. You are an integral part of the Plan. Yes, you are hurt because something that happened to you. But don't let that hurt dissuade you from your whole purpose for being.

You and I are so much more than what meets our own eyes.
You and I were made to worship
You and I are called to love
You and I are forgiven and free
You and I embrace surrender
You and I choose to believe
You and I will see who we were meant to be.

Chris Tomlin nailed it. You and I are not just a few of billions of people. We are not insignificant. We have been chosen to continue the work of Jesus Christ. How great is that? How great is our God!
During Lent, we remind ourselves of the message on that mountain, the Mountain of the Transfiguration: "This is my Beloved Son, Listen to Him." We remember the message. We consider how well we have listened, how well we are listening. And we leave the mountain with the other disciples, determined to complete the role set aside for each one of us for all eternity, the role, our role, in His Plan. We leave the mountain this Sunday determined to embrace a Life Worth Living.

Homily from Father Phil Bloom
* Available in Spanish - see Spanish Homilies
2 Lent
Next Step in Evolution
(March 8, 2020)
Bottom line: We find fulfillment on the mountain top with Jesus. Listen to him.
Last Sunday we saw Jesus as a man immersed in the Scriptures who countered Satan's temptations. Imitating Jesus we desire immersion in the God's Word. The importance of the Bible for us as Catholics, we can see from the fact that at our Masses we read from every section of the Scriptures. Not only that, almost every word of the Mass comes from Bible or is based on the Bible.
Still, it's not enough that words simply enter our ears. We want God's Word to live in our hearts. Today's Gospel shows how that can happen.
The opening verse states: "Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves." Jesus wants us to take time apart with him. In your home do you have some place for prayer? Maybe a corner with a candle, crucifix, or sacred image. I know some people use cell phone apps to pray. That's great if it works. Most of us need to turn off the cell phone so we can give time completely to Jesus. He desires to lead us to the mountain top.
On the mountain top we can hear the Father's voice: "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him." In the Catholic Church we have a time tested way of listening to Jesus - lectio divina. It literally means "divine reading". Take a passage from the Bible and read it slowly, stopping where it speaks to you. It may speak hope, repentance, trust. What that voice says, listen.
I've found the daily Mass readings almost always have a word I need to hear. I may feel discouraged like a Confederate soldier at the end of the Civil War- like I've fought in vain for a lost cause. Then I come upon a verse like the one from our first reading: "I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you". I realize God's mercy is not ended, that he renews it every morning.
When you and I go apart with Jesus and listen to him, he often exceeds our expectations, our wildest expectations, as we hear today: "he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light". In Christ you and I will be transformed. C.S. Lewis expressed it this way: "People often ask when the next step in evolution - the step to something beyond man - will happen. But on the Christian view, it has happened already. In Christ a new kind of man appeared: and the new kind of life which began in Him is to be put into us." Bishop Bob Barron had a more earthy comparison: "We are like grubs who are waiting to be monarch butterflies."
No matter how much you or I have - health, money, friendship - we still feel restless, even empty and unfulfilled. Even as we appreciate the wonderful things about this life, we are never really at home. We find our true self on the mountain top with Jesus. Listen to him. Amen.

Homily from Saint Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, Pa
Saint Vincent Archabbey
2 Lent

Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
2 Lent
We have in our readings today two extraordinary religious experiences taking place on the top of mountains. It's been a while since I was on the top of a high mountain but I remember it as a very exhilarating experience—the height, the thin air, the wind, the sense of achievement after a hard ascent, and the prospect of an easy and rapid descent. And there is the appreciation of beauties of nature in the tremendous view.
Although we speak only figuratively, there is also the sense of being close to heaven. Many people have profound religious experiences on the tops of mountains. Here in our first reading there is the extraordinary story of the sacrifice of Isaac—or rather the non-sacrifice of Isaac. Abraham is put to the test by God, the sacrifice of his only son is demanded and Abraham obeys. Abraham is prepared to believe in the Lord God although he appears to be a very hard and demanding God demanding back the gift of this precious son born so late in life.
But Abraham accedes to the Lord's stipulations and seizes the knife to kill his son. But then the angel intervenes and the ram is sacrificed instead. Abraham's obedience brings him untold blessings which will pass from generation to generation. And even today we do exactly as God has said, we bless ourselves through his descendents because it is through them that salvation was brought definitively into the world.
And then Jesus takes his closest disciples up Mount Tabor where he was transfigured. There they see him transformed and radiant and Moses and Elijah appear next to him. Moses for the Law and Elijah for the Prophets. This is the sign that all that has gone before and recorded in the Old Testament is now come to fulfilment in Christ.
That close band of disciples see the glory of God shining through Jesus. They get a glimpse of his glory and realise that he is truly the Messiah and is greater that they could ever have imagined till now. We are given this wonderful Gospel reading is given to us during Lent to remind us what we are about as disciples of Christ. It is presented to us to help us to realise that we are all called as Abraham was, called to follow the will of God in true obedience—even when it seems difficult or incomprehensible to us.
It is given to us to help us to realise that our main purpose in life is to experience a gradual transfiguration ourselves so that out from us radiates the love and holiness of our God. All our time, all our energy, all our work, all our leisure, all our encounters, all our thoughts and actions must increasingly radiate the glory of God.
What we are called to do is to enable the divine life which entered our souls at baptism to become more and more evident to others. The aim is that through our lives the splendour of the Father becomes ever more visible to the world.
Of course, the question we are left with is: how do we do this? I think the answer is don't get in the way. God knows what he is doing; like Abraham we might not find it comprehensible but ours is not to reason why. Ours is to let God act through us, for us to become conduits of his love, for us to hold back our egos and let God prove his love to the world by prompting us to act in this way or that way.
We need to step back in life to forget our own plans and to let the plans of God evolve. We all have examples of how he has worked wonders in our own lives and in the lives of those around us. But that doesn't stop us from interfering. We see his Divine Providence one day and yet the next day we blame him for something The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed fervently for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect himself from the elements and to store his few possessions. One day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened; everything was lost. He was stunned with grief and anger. "God, how could you do this to me?" He cried. Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. "How did you know I was here?" asked the weary man of his rescuers. "We saw your smoke signal," they replied.

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