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 6th. Since today is August 6th, 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. We will also return to our reading of Matthew’s Gospel. But for today, we pause to focus on this great event in Jesus’ life.
The event of the Transfiguration was a spectacular event in Jesus life. Normally we 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 aside 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 that 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 in his life 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 to our spouse 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 tremendous pride in our children that we thought we would bust! 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 didn’t want the moment to end.
Father Clive told me that he had such a moment when he was sworn in as a U.S. citizen last February. For many of us northsiders, we shared a moment of glory last November 2nd at 11:40 pm. Our dreams came true with the final out and the Cubs won the World Series! For those of us who are southsiders, you experienced this glory a few years earlier when the White Sox claimed the same title of World Champions. Which ever team we were cheering for, we tasted glory and we didn’t want the moment to end. As a life-long Cubs fan, that moment last November was seared into my memory and will be one that I will never forget. We saw glory and were truly given a hint of what heaven must be like. And like Peter, we wanted to erect three tents – we didn’t want 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.
As many of you know, we have an Emergency Line connected to our main parish telephone line. Should someone call after office hours, the recorded greeting gives instructions on what to do to access our Emergency Line mail box. When an emergency message is left in that mail box, we are immediately alerted through a message to one of our cell phones. One of the priests is “on call” and receives Emergency Line messages through his cell phone. Once we are alerted, we call the parish mail boxes, retrieve the message from the Emergency Line mail box and respond as soon as possible. We’ve recently had a number of last minute calls from Hospice Chaplains asking us to come and anoint a parishioner in Hospice care. In most cases, we are able to respond in time, but not all. Whenever a family member begins hospice care, please call for the Sacrament of the Sick immediately. Do not wait until the last minute. We try our best to respond immediately to requests for the Sacrament of the Sick. In situations like this, earlier is better than later.
On this first weekend of August, we are now into 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’s enjoy it to the full. May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy