Homily for the 2nd Sunday of Lent 2022
This past Friday, was the 2nd anniversary of World Health Organization officially confirmed a global pandemic. On the radio, people were asked, “where were you this time two years ago…?” Closed up in our homes? Hiding under our beds? Praying up a storm? This was a time of great change not only in our own society but throughout the entire world.
This Monday, our province will drop all mandatory face masks, social distancing and other protocols put into place to protect us. All places of businesses and churches or where people gather will return to normal. Here at Holy Spirit Parish, I want to assure you that we will go slow with these lessened restrictions. For example, if you are more comfortable with masks on, then certainly wear them. If you want to social distance, we will keep our blocked off seating in place for awhile… again, we need to transform or transfigure into another way of being because we have been changed by the pandemic… and it’s fall-out we’re not the same.
For the Second Sunday of Lent, we are given a story of another dramatic change… it is the story of the Transfiguration Gospel. It is a revelation of Jesus’ identity… a revelation of the divine… As we heard, Jesus take 3 of his closes friends up a mountain where they experienced something so awesome that they cannot describe it. Jesus face changes in appearance … becomes ‘dazzling white,’ symbolic of Joy of the Holy of God’s love. And who joins them? Moses and Elijah: 2 prophets who had their own mountain experiences. They talk with Jesus about his ‘exodus.’ or his ‘way out,’ which will be through the cross in Jerusalem. Just as Moses led people out of desert… Jesus leads people out of slavery of sin. Even though Jesus’ friends are sleepy, they got to see his glory…
And look at Peter’s response: he doesn’t know what to say… he wants to stay… he has a good heart but he gets things wrong from time to time. He wants to build them tents! By assigning a tent to each one, he is stating that all 3… Jesus and the two prophets are equal! Nope! This is where God intervenes: God corrects him: “This is my Son, my Chosen: listen to him.” In other words, God is reminding them that they are not to control the holy but respond to it.
What does that mean? Transfiguration? What did it mean for those followers of Jesus who went up the mountain with him and who had this experience? What does it mean for us? Transfiguration means “a complete change or transformation.” Like those disciples who were given a glimpse of the holy or fullness of God’s love, we too, are given the same opportunity.
Many times people who are on retreats, of being on a mountain top have had Transfiguring experiences. But it’s not just retreats: look at those who experience of God’s presence… at falling in love, the birth of achild, marriage, or those who experience God presence in nature, an awesome sunset, a beautiful piece of music… all revelation of God’s love. We don’t build tents, nor can we stay we always have to come down the mountain, back to work, daily life. It’s our response to these Transfiguring experience, the glimpses of the ‘holy’ is what is important!
As I have said many times before these past two years of the pandemic has been a graced time… we have had transfiguration experiences here at Holy Spirit Parish. It’s ironic… even though we had to socially distant ourselves from each other… we got to know each other better, at least names to faces: the people who sat us for Mass, funerals and other liturgies… signing in, asking questions, following the protocol… our celebrations stripped to the core… no singing… no responses and so on. We we challenged to look at and to do Ministry differently: those of you who took Communion to shut-ins or visited loved ones in nursing homes from the outside looking in at them…. those who did shopping or phone calls for the isolated. And the list goes on. These are ‘transfiguring’ experiences… We’re all called to be part of the Transfiguration. On the news yesterday, psychologists are telling us to prepare for anxieties that will come with the removal of all pandemic protocols. No doubt those disciples on the mountain with Jesus had anxieties too… after having that experience and then having to return to their work of ministry. We, too may have the same anxieties but we need to remember that we have the transfigured experience within each us.
On Ash Wednesday, we were given the challenge to take advantage of our Lenten season to bring about a positive change in our hearts. We began the season with ashes, blessed and distributed on our foreheads… ‘turn away from sin and believe the Good News’ As a communal response or our “yes” we donned those ashes as our willingness to change our hearts in a more positive way by drawing our hearts closer to God’s heart. But as well, it is a reminder that God is present in each and everyone one of us for truly we are transfiguration people. During these Lenten days, “Will draw on our own transfigured experiences to help us grow and renew?”