Fr. John Barry    Aug. 5-6, 2023

Opening of Mass comment.  Happy Transfiguration Feast. This biblical event appears in all four Gospel books as an important moment in the life of Jesus and evidence of His divinity. The Transfiguration is our closest day to a holy day in the Church which is not one.  I think it’s in the top 5 moments of Jesus’ life. We have this feast today and in each Lent we also ponder the Transfiguration Mystery in Christ Jesus.   Gospel: Matthew 17.

HOMILY I  For the 4 pm Resurrection & 2 pm Riderwood Masses

In the realm of Divine Providence, God wants you to know that He helps you get prepared for what awaits ahead in your life, especially in the challenges to come to you or others. Sometimes it is done almost in secret to you; other times it is quite obvious.

God in Jesus prepared Peter, James and John for the scandal of The Cross by giving them the Transfiguration experience. They would need this, and the other believers would need their strength later on to cope with such a shocking thing to happen to their spiritual leader Jesus.

It’s August 6th on the Church calendar, the day when Jesus’ Transfiguration Feast is honored, whether for a weekday or Sunday. It was 2017 it last fell on a Sunday, which then, like today, changes the prayers, reading and theme to all be about Transfiguration or prophetic words of God of the Christ’ identity.

God has likely done something ahead in your life to prepare you for what awaits—as in, just down the road a ways in life. It is His gift to bolster your faith, or to be enlightened for something that could happen eventually to you. (Or if you are young, then God may be doing that ‘something’ a bit later on for you. Or things may be happening in your life to help you later on: like when I had eczema pretty bad as a child, it was so itchy, but I learned God was with me and today I have some self-control by it that I use from those times. Or, I had some great happy times with my grandparents as a youth, and it helps me now to understood a bit better the elderly or those grandparent-age people in our parish.)

God wants to help you be ready for certain things. He prepares His own; He has providence going on for His people for the vital things they need.

For Peter, James and John, Jesus will offer the apostles an experience to help them to know Him well, so that when all the trials happen soon to mightily test their faith or have them to become confused—they will be able to fall back on the revelation given them at the Transfiguration event. What Jesus makes clear to the trio, in His unveiling His clear divine and human blended identity, is that Jesus is to be understood definitely to be of the two natures in one person, and He certainly is divine in that humanity they had known Him by. But the Crucifixion time was looming ahead. A big challenge was coming: How or why would God in His Son go to a Cross and Sacrifice?! It was so utterly shocking, that Jesus had to give them special help. They’d realize that Jesus’ divine nature did not die but that his human one did but as a perfect man and a holy, divine sacrifice for sinners. Jesus is God, they’d see, in their sight of His heavenly light and authority. Jesus was in control, and let the Sacrifice happen.

But He left them this experience so that Peter, James and John would not get overtaken by the Cross—and then could go help the others to understand what happened at Calvary and why.

You or I may get enlightened by The Lord by an event or lesson or faith experience, one that builds us up in understanding and strength, so that we may be used of God in helping a hurting brother or sister. God will show us when to use it. He had told His three main apostles here in the Transfiguration event not to share what they’d seen until a later time, after His Resurrection.

(By the way, in way of personal interpretation, I believe that Mary and Joseph also had revelation of Jesus’ divinity since His childhood, but did not share it either, until it was time to do so.)

The Transfiguration of Jesus would show these main apostles—and now shows us—of how this Sacrifice of Jesus, honored in the memorial of The Holy Mass—was the perfect one, as Jesus is God and in Divine Mercy meets us sinners here, and His Body and Blood of His holy humanity is our peace and reconciliation with God. He meets His repentance, trusting people here—to reassure us, and then send us out to help others in the world.

As we hear Matthew 17’s account today, after the bright cloud of the Spirit and Father God’s voice, on this new version of the Jewish feast of tabernacles (booths), Jesus says “tell not this vision to others, that is, until the Son of Man rises from the dead.” The Jewish faith is getting fulfilled right and left in Christ Jesus, Messiah has a plan; one that is trustworthy. God tells us this secretly and He tells it to us obviously and clearly, too—sometimes quite dramatically (like happened in the Transfiguration) but we do believe that God does do things in revelation to personally or corporally ready us for the big events or experiences to come ahead. In connection, we could say that God gives us a peak, or more than a hint, or equips us inside our being to handle a challenging or life changing matter that will spring on us. (Or that will spring on others, with ourselves there needed to share with them our strength of experience and familiarity, to help the person with what God has equipped us.)

Some of you, at least among mature believers, know a bit of what I am talking about. God gets us ready, obviously or secretively, for the things to come in the realm of faith. You may have knowledge of this happening in your life—maybe once in a big way, or in many little ways. Sometimes you even get a feeling in a moment or of a dream that you have been here in this spot before—if only prophetically, but you are ready to face it, because God is in it.

If you are not clearly aware of any of this, then He would have you do some reflection and seeking what He has indeed planted in you—of the strength, or wisdom, or love, or insight that is God given for your discovery and usage.  Or perhaps He is asking you presently to go along with Him, up your Mount of Tabor, for what you need to receive or see from Jesus.  Maybe that is the point of this feast.

I cannot really easily describe what this is to you, if you are not getting at what I am saying.

Maybe this will help—if you are not following me.

A man was suffering through some of his hardest tests in his career, and he felt alone in it and largely unappreciated for his supreme efforts for the company. He was wondering just how long it would all go on so hard.  He prayed a good while on it.  He was encouraged in his mind to go take a long weekend trip up to his dad’s grave, and just ask for what Pop do in this situation.  While on the car ride, he strangely felt like his Pop was riding in the back seat and talking to him—even though the car was empty. He also saw a coincidental sign that caught his attention, so he pulled over at a scenic rest area there ahead and just sat awhile. Then the cell phone rang. It was his company, saying that they had a big upgrade and higher job for him to do, for their seeing that his talents were to be applied in another site.
It was an aha moment (!) that someone up there was watching out for him, as in God, and in this case, with ‘Saint Dad. ‘
It may sound like an old chicken soup for the soul story, but it’s a true one. Maybe its telling can rouse what your Mt. Tabor story would be…
I know that in the realm of spiritual life, the people who pray and ask for God’s lead and authority (and for less unbelief on their part, or less selfish interpretation of things)—these people are likely to be bearers of an obvious or underlying God-assistance for preparing them for what lies ahead.  It is in the prophetic side of Christ ministry in His Spirit to us.

Let us do the homily homestretch, with our Sunday version of the Transfiguration, that always falls on August 6th of the Church calendar, with these readings, prayers and God-provision theme.
The Transfiguration of Jesus event is a theophany: a manifestation of God, especially of the divinity of Christ Jesus, of the reality of God with us in Him—of a-God-right-now-with-us Who is preparing us for what’s ahead, too.
Jesus is God and He is in you. Let that truth shine on you!! Colossians 1:27 proclaims “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  Christ in you, Church, too, the hope of glory.  It’s true in Christ across place and time, Colossae to Burtonsville-Silver Spring.

Let’s apply the Transfiguration mystery to ourselves. Jesus wants to take you and I to a high place, as He did here for three friends, and give you and I a very good spiritual look.

This past week, I went up to a high place with a friend and past parishioner for a scenic look over a big valley. The Laurel man, now in Pennsylvania, was reflecting on his life since 1996—when I met him and his engaged girlfriend preparing for marriage in the Church. They been wed for 26 years with several children born to them in a faith-filled life.  He, though, is diagnosed with cancer, so he was not just site-seeing with me, but looking ahead at what will happen with his life, and with his wife and children. He asked me to come for this overlook at his life, as actually to not overlook anything, but to see it better in the light of faith.  The physical view actually was inspiring, as well.  But what was best was that Jesus was up on that mount with us sharing His abiding presence.  At the house with his wife and family, too, we just prayed for the Light of Christ to shine down on them for strength ahead on what will come.

Homily II       Family Mass  9 a.m. Resurrection

Today’s Gospel story has a few interesting views to it. I would like to highlight it as a time when three friends of Jesus were picked out for a very special and pretty exciting experience with the Lord.

It was Peter, James and John of whom were asked among the many apostles and disciples of Jesus to go up with Him for a mountain walk and retreat up on Mt. Tabor, even for a celebration  of the Feast (holiday) of Booths.  It’s a holiday when you have food and drink and set up booth/tents. So Peter donkey-packed that up to go.  The Transfiguration of Jesus happened up on that mountain, which is that they saw Jesus shining in brilliant God light, and knew for sure now He was God and a man together in one person. They also heard a God voice and God cloud up there (of the Father and the Holy Spirit) and noticed that the Holy Son Jesus was able to ask Moses and Elijah to come and visit Him and His three friends on the mountain spot. It was truly amazing! It was a holiday moment never to forget.

Jesus had picked them to go up and experience this special time.

So I would like you to consider a time in your life when you have been picked for something special.  It would be a time when only a few selected persons got to do or see something. Yet you were one of them.

Maybe you can think of one such time or more.  Or maybe you cannot think so quickly of such a time. 

I remember when I went to a brand new school, and it was into the 8th grade, at Benjamin Tasker Middle School in Bowie. The new school had two things that my former school had not. It had a school chorus in which one joined into it by putting a singing class onto your schedule, instead of art or shop class or gardening or cooking—it was one of the electives for your seven-course day.

Tasker Middle also had a drama department that put on school plays. That did not have a class, but it was an after-school activity, in which I joined up to try.  I had not acted nor sung on a stage before, but that was all to change for me. The school had a brand new unused auditorium to be used for assemblies, band concerts, school chorus performances, and school play shows.

I sang for the music teacher to see if I qualified for a chorus class. It’s called an audition. She played the piano and asked me to sing the notes. She was happy with my note singing, and then she asked me to sing some song I knew. I sang a tune called “Yesterday.” She said I did well, so I was picked to be one of the boys to be in Ms. Clarke’s chorus class. She also said I would be a soloist singer. After school, I went to the drama club and they said they were to do a play that late Autumn called “Hot Ice” starring a detective who helps find a diamond thief. It sounded interesting, and I tried out for the lead part of the detective, or the jewel thief part, or the jewelry shop owner. I was picked out with two others to audition for it, and all three of us were chosen as the lead stars of the play. I got the part of the old man detective because I did the best impression of an old man walking and talking. I just pretended to be like what my Pop Pop was like. He was a train operator, not a detective, but the impression worked.

I was so happy to be picked out for such special things.  In a month or two, I was singing and soloing with the school chorus, and I was acting in a play with just a select few actors. It was great.  It still remains some of the best times ever for when I was picked out especially for something.

So I thought of it as my example of the Transfiguration story. Yet Peter, James and John got a spectacular choice to be the three who went up Mount Tabor with Jesus for something big to happen.

So you heard what happened, from our Gospel today.

They three picked-out friends of Jesus got to see Him turn spectacularly light, shining brilliantly, as God showing Himself to be living in Jesus Christ the human person. Jesus showed how He was God, or the two-in-one person, God and man.  No one had ever seen such a thing! Jesus also was able to get Moses and Elijah to come down from heaven and visit with them up their on the mountaintop area for the Jewish feast day of booths. Peter had opened up the tent-booths and gotten out the food and drink, but he certainly was greatly surprised at all that was going on, as The Holy Spirit came as in the form of a special heavenly cloud and then God the Father spoke, as in the form of rumbling noise.

Peter spoke up in glee: Lord, it is good for us to be here! Wow!

Jesus explained to him and the two brothers, James and John, that the dazzling light and special effects were to encourage them to believe deeply about Jesus as being God here with us.

In our lives, we might get picked out for something special, like for an award, or starting place on a team, or for a school scholarship, or a talent competition prize, or chosen to be a friend of someone who is fabulous and nice.  All are great things.

This story shows of the most special thing in life.  It shows that God is Jesus and that He picks us out for His love and for His life to be in us to make us good and holy and part of His family.
That is the greatest ever way to be chosen.
The joy of life is to hear Jesus say: You’re #1 with Me!
In finish, maybe one of my favorite short quotes of Jesus is when He said to the faith followers back in Galilee:  I have chosen you.









We are studying of Peter through this Lent, with some reflection on him in Bible stories and of his own words and writings. 

One of the key moments in Peter’s life was being present at The Transfiguration of Jesus on the Mount.   The Bible story is featured in the 2nd Lenten Sunday Gospel (C, 2019).  We could learn why it is put there in Lent.

A proclamation of the Gospel: (eyes closed for first time.  Views ?’s for second time.) Jesus took Peter, John, and James  and went up the mountain to pray.While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus  that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.
Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep, but becoming fully awake,  they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.  As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
But he did not know what he was saying. While he was still speaking, a cloud came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud.
Then from the cloud came a voice that said,  “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone.  They fell silent and did not at that time tell anyone what they had seen.  +

Questions:  Why was Peter chosen?  For Luke’s account, why is Peter speaking? Where are they?  Why are they up there?  Who do the two visiting figures represent?  What do you make of the sleeping Peter and J & J? When else will they slumber ahead?  (It is meant as a link.)  What happens to Jesus that they see Him in a new way?  If Moses and Elijah ‘give way’ to Jesus, then what is implied?  If Jesus summoned them, then what is implied?  What is the cloud that comes over them?  Who is The Voice?  In the phrase, when has it been said before in the Gospel account and where.  (It is meant as a link.)

Peter later recalls this event in his own writings.    2 Peter 1:16-18

2 Peter 1:16-18  For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”[a] We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.

A Review.  Using an  IBS commentary.   

In the Gospel account of the Transfiguration Jesus takes three of his closest friends* with him up the mountain. The event is miraculous!  Their savior is speaking with the representatives of the entire faith of Israel – Moses and Elijah.  Moses was believed to have single handedly written the Law; Elijah represented all the Prophets.  His disciples must have remembered Jesus saying that he came not to abolish the Law and the Prophets but to fulfill.  Peter experienced this moment with great awe. The Transfiguration helped to prepare the way for the coming of the cross.  Jesus foretold many times that he would have to suffer and die but his disciples never wanted to hear about it.* Peter so belligerently denied that He undergo such suffering that Jesus had to rebuke him on the spot, identifying his mentality with Satan. Peter stands in the first part of this miraculous moment between Jesus, Moses, and Elijah and offers to build tents.* In shock, there really is an encounter with God that occurs (not just a feast-religious observation done).*  He hears the words of the Father.  Peter had not been obediently listening to Jesus, of preparing for His passion.*He should be prepared for the coming trial, but we know what Peter will do in the Passion account.                                                                                                                

There will be victory.  It is already going on, and the Transfiguration shows it.   God will allow the upcoming Event to happen.  Peter longs for redemption, but does not see that redemption taking place through the cross.  The full realization of the redemption of our bodies will be in the resurrection of the body, not merely in a transfiguration. We can’t begin to argue that the Transfiguration is somehow greater than the resurrection, but that is what Peter is doing, albeit in a naïve way.  Jesus’ redemption isn’t on the same level as Moses and Elijah; it’s a redemption that is far greater.* It is the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ that allows us to fully experience the redemption of our bodies in the resurrection.  This happens because we are baptized into Christ’s Paschal Mystery (CCC 1265).  What Jesus is by nature we become by grace.  When the Father speaks over Jesus, “This is my chosen Son…”  We can become partakers of the divine nature because of Jesus’ salvific work (CCC 460).  JP II notes that the new state of the redemption of the body comes about in this “adoption.”

We experience this redemption during our very earthly lives as Saint Paul states, “we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23).  Redemption of the body is something much more than the transfiguration; it is the rehabilitation of the gift and of the spousal meaning of our bodies.  *  All this comes about because of Jesus’ work on the cross, which is not God’s final answer on the subject. The redemption of the body is marked in this life as “life in the spirit” (Romans 8).  It really does take the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit to experience this redemption of the body, which are all gifts of God.  Redemption also means virtue, specifically temperance (TOB 49:4-5).  Our Lenten observances of fasting (yes, even from chocolate) help us to attain this important virtue.  John Paul calls this temperance self-mastery, without which we cannot hope to experience gift, communion, and “the mysterious reality of his image and likeness” (TOB 49:5). The task of self- mastery must be done with a conscious awareness of the reason why it is undertaken: for love (TOB 49:7).  It is the “life of virtue” that we hope to attain more in this season of Lent, so that in Easter we will experience the “life in the spirit” all the more and attain the redemption of our bodies.

The Feast:   The Western Church has a universal feast on 6 August.  Basilicas:  Up on Mount Tabor.

Group Study Intro:    Peter’s story:  Trying to be an ongoing learner/disciple of Jesus Christ.

He is the evolving convert (as different from Paul’s story).

His toughest lesson:  God is in suffering, will use suffering, and will suffer in Christ.

The Transfiguration is a follow up lesson (for Peter) to the Confession of The Christ lesson.  [“You are The Christ, the Son of the Living God.”]  Then, in the affirmation of that rightful confession, Jesus reveals Part II: the suffering, dying and rising Mystery (Paschal*) —Peter had rebelled to it.    But here, the next “class” is in session for the chief disciple: God is in control, working in His Son. 

Group Study     Like Peter, we must be willing to learn.  Read the following timeline…

Peter is among the disciples of Jesus Christ. A disciple came from the Greek word mathetes, which literally means a learner.  When he meets Jesus for the first time, at his fishing boat on shore, he learns that Jesus “knows” a whole lot.  Jesus wants Peter to know more, saying to him: “Put out into the deep.”   Have you had a challenge by Jesus to put out into your “deep?”

Jesus called Peter to be a disciple, and follow Him, so to obtain the example and witness of Jesus, and hear His words, and note His life and priorities.  Jesus seemed to be on some urgent timetable, and he asks Simon Peter to leave his nets and an inopportune time—when his mother in law was sick at home.      What lesson comes soon later back in his home Capernaum, after a quick sojourn in Galilee with Jesus,and Andrew, James and John?  [Ref: the account of Jesus praying for the m-in-law in person later…]

Look at Peter’s words to Jesus in this series of his inquires to His Master:  Comment: Did Peter show an eagerness to learn?   1. “And Peter said to him, Lord, are these words said to us only, or to all men?” (Luke 12:41).   2.  “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times” (Matthew 18:21)?   3.“Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable” (Matthew 15:15).    4.“And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, ‘Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled’” (Mark 13:3-4)?

Getting help from the life of St. Peter, how are we learner-disciples?  How is it that the lessons on suffering are so hard? Do we apply this in tandem with the Way of the Cross?

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