(My Sunday homily was a mess, at least I thought so. I only came up with some notes about an hour before the first Mass, and I kept reworking them with each Mass. What follows is more or less what I said.)
If there is a theme to my homily, it is this: When Christ gives you graces, what do you do with them?
In the Transfiguration, described in the Gospel, what's happening? Well, two things in particular. First, it shows that Jesus really is God; and, second, that he is truly Israel's promised king and Messiah, as foreshadowed in the Scriptures -- such as the first reading.
But there's something curious -- perhaps you wondered about it: why did Jesus only bring along these three? Why not bring all the Apostles up the mountain to experience this?
We don't really know, but you might notice that these same three are invited to pray with him in the Garden of Gethsemane; and we do know that Peter was the leader of the Apostles. So we might guess that James and John were also leaders, and Jesus needed them to be strong for the rest of the Apostles.
Notice something else: if they did what Jesus asked, they couldn't tell anyone, not even the other Apostles!
Sometimes we end up getting invited "inside"; we are called into the meeting, we're given greater responsibility, we have more access and information, and what happens? We get a big head!
Jesus didn't need these Apostles to react that way; he needed them to help the other Apostles.
So: if you are one of those who is given more gifts, or more responsibility, ask yourself: Am I using these to serve the rest? And if not, what will you say to Jesus on Judgment Day?
Now let's look at this from the perspective of the other Apostles. Sometimes we see others being given opportunities we wish we'd gotten. We see others called in, and we're on the outside. And what happens? Envy, resentment, a bad attitude.
We don't know if that's how the Apostles reacted in this case, but they might have. And, again, that's not what Jesus needed them to do. We do know that after the Resurrection, they worked together to launch the Church, and it might have been different if they'd had a bad attitude.
So again, if we find ourselves resenting the fact that others are given opportunities we don't get, what will we say to Jesus if we let a bad attitude get in the way of the mission Jesus gave us?
A third point occurs to me. Normally, Jesus presented himself to everyone in his ordinary humanity; but then this moment happens, and his inner reality is fully on display. What if that happened to you or me? If people got to see, not just the outside, but all the inside, too. How does that sound?
I'm not so sure I want that! You and I both know that on any given occasion, we might not want what's inside, on display. Will it be brilliant light--or darkness?
But Jesus wants us to be filled with light. He never shows us anything he doesn't want to share with us. You see, none of us is an outsider; we've all been given access, and invited up onto the mountain. Jesus has given this to us in baptism, and he renews that light in us in every sacrament.
When we go to confession, we are filled with his light. But that takes an act of faith; and many people struggle to believe that Jesus really does take away our sins -- but that is exactly what he does. And when we receive Holy Communion in a state of grace, we receive that Light at the source.
Jesus has given us such graces and opportunities. What do we do with them?