August 6, 2023

Every once in a while, a major feast on our regular Church calendar falls on a Sunday in Ordinary Time. When that happens, the celebration of the major feast replaces the normal Ordinary Time Sunday celebration. Each year, we celebrate the major feast of the Transfiguration on August 6. Since today is August 6, our regular celebration of the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time is put aside so that we can celebrate the feast of the Transfiguration. We will return to the regular Sunday celebrations next Sunday when we celebrate the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time. But for today, we pause to focus on this great event in Jesus’ life.

Life is a journey, along different roads, different paths, which leave their mark on us. We know in faith that Jesus seeks us out. He wants to heal our wounds, to soothe our feet which hurt from traveling alone, to wash each of us clean of the dust from our journey.

Pope Francis

The event of the Transfiguration was a spectacular event in Jesus’ life. We usually hear this Gospel every year on the Second Sunday in Lent. Hearing it then reminds us of the glory that God has prepared for us if we are faithful to his call. We see Jesus gathered with his closest friends – Peter, James and John. He takes them to the top of a mountain. There he shares a moment of prayer with them. During that time, he experiences a tremendous union with his Father, during which his glory as God’s son breaks through his humanity and his appearance is changed. Everything came together in Jesus’ life at that moment. His humanity and his divinity merged together so completely that Peter, James and John saw his glory bursting out of his human body. It was a moment of complete glory when everything fit together in perfect harmony.

Many of us have had brief moments when it seemed that everything in our lives came together in perfect harmony and we saw glory! Briefly recall the moment we proposed or were proposed to by our spouse. Didn’t we see glory? And the moment when we held our child for the first time – another moment of glory! Remember when we felt such tremendous pride in our children that we thought we would burst! Or we landed the job of our dreams – and all of our dreams came together. Or we may have been on a retreat like CRHP, Cursillo or Kairos and we felt a tremendous closeness with God that we didn’t want to end. These were moments of glory when it felt like heaven and earth came together in a perfect union and we did not want the moment to end.

For many of us Northsiders, we shared such a moment of glory on November 2, 2016 at 11:40 pm. Our dreams came true with the final out and the Cubs won the World Series! For those who are Southsiders, you experienced this glory a few years earlier when the White Sox claimed the same title of World Champions. Whichever team we were cheering for, we tasted glory. As a life-long Cubs fan, that moment in November 2016 was seared into my memory and will be one that I will never forget. And like Peter, who wanted to erect three tents, none of us wanted the moment to end.

The Father’s voice from the cloud tells us how we can keep that moment of glory alive: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” Even though our personal moments of glory come and go so quickly, listening to Jesus, living our lives as his disciples, being faithful in the good and bad times, sets us on a path that leads to glory that will never end. For now, our brief moments of glory challenge us to focus our energy on the glory that is unending.

It is good that we pause on our sojourn through the Sundays of Ordinary Time to celebrate today’s Feast of the Transfiguration as a larger community. We remember past moments of glory and recommit ourselves to listening to God’s beloved Son and to truly living our faith leading to moments of unending, eternal glory with God.

On this first weekend of August, we have now entered the final month of the summer. Next week, we will celebrate the feast of the Assumption of Mary. We endured a long, cold winter waiting for this season of the year. Let us enjoy it to the fullest. May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.

– Father Jim Murphy