Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Transfiguration shows us Who Jesus Is

We might wonder why the “Transfiguration”
is important, whether
to these Apostles, or to us.

Answer: it tells us exactly who Jesus is.

If you watch late-night cable,
or browse the bookstore,
you can find lots of people who
get pretty excited over “secrets” and “codes”—
meanwhile, we have the Scriptures
right before us!

This event comes right in the middle
of the Gospel of Mark.
The question that’s been building is,
Who is Jesus?

So just before today’s passage,
Jesus himself asks the question:
“who do people say that I am?”

The Apostles say, “John the Baptist, Elijah…
one of the prophets.”
He asks again, “Who do you say that I am?”
And Peter blurts out, “You are the Messiah.”

Jesus responds to Peter’s insight
by offering even more:
He begins to reveal his plan of salvation:
He will suffer, die,
and rise again on the third day.

That was hard for Peter to accept;
But the Lord insists:
That’s who I am; if you want to follow me,
you must “take up your cross!”

The difficulty remains: what kind of Messiah?
A Messiah who conquers,
or who suffers and dies on the Cross?

It’s both.
This is who Jesus is.

The Cross is his glory!
That’s where he reigns!
That’s how he conquers the world:
Not the Rambo-Messiah, guns-ablazing—
That’s our way.

Jesus conquers by giving his life away,
to wipe away sin, to reconcile us
to God and one another.

We like the Rambo-Messiah
when he conquers…someone else!
But for that part of us
that needs forgiveness,
aren’t you glad to have
the Cross-Messiah instead?

Aren’t you glad to hear Jesus say,
I will conquer, not by killing you,
but by dying for you!

So, now we come to today’s Gospel.
Jesus knows how difficult
the Cross will be for them;
So to strengthen them for it,
he reveals his full glory.

If we look even closer,
we’ll find even more.

Notice something Father Tim Schehr,
from our seminary, picked up:
Peter says, let’s have three shrines—
implying all three are equals.
But then the Father answers from heaven:
“This is my beloved Son—listen to him!”
That’s when they only see Jesus.

We might wonder, why Moses and Elijah?
Why not Abraham or David or someone else?

Well—again, to quote Fr. Schehr—
“Moses represents the Law;
Elijah, the Prophets.”
And both left this world…
outside the Promised Land.”
Now, we see they’ve arrived!
Jesus isn’t a prophet like them:
he’s their salvation!

One more thing.
In the Old Testament,
God spoke to a lot of folks,
but only two went up a mountain
to see the Lord’s glory.
These two!
But before, when they went up the mountain,
they couldn’t bear to see it!
Moses hid in a rock;
Elijah covered his head.

But they don’t have to hide, here!
So we ask, Who is Jesus?
Mark shows us:
He is the One who Moses and Elijah
wanted to see!
the Lord God himself! God Almighty!

If you wonder, what’s this do for us?
Same as the Apostles.
They needed this to strengthen them
for their crisis of faith.
So do we.

In years ahead, what crisis
may come for our nation?
What might we face in our families,
or our own lives?

Can anyone deny
we have our own crisis of faith?
For so many, their faith is not a priority.
Smaller families, fewer baptisms,
Nationwide, Catholic schools are struggling—
and the same is true here.

That’s when we need
to remember who Jesus is!
Our only answer is to say:
Jesus truly is Lord!

When others around us get dazzled by
secret codes and hidden Gospels,
remember St. Peter’s words
in the second reading:
This is not a “cleverly devised myth”—
We saw him with our own eyes!

Are you in a dark place?
Keep your eyes fixed on his light,
And wait for the morning star!

Last Sunday, you may recall hearing
Father Tom, Father Ang, or me, say
our homilies for a few weeks
would be on the Mass.

So what’s the connection today?
Our “transfiguration” experience is the Mass.
This is where we come to do
as the Father said:
Listen to My Son!
Especially in the Scriptures.

Some can’t hear, I know;
some don’t get much from them.
May I ask, do you read them ahead of time?

If they’re hard to understand,
How about a weekly Bible Study?
I lead one every Wednesday,
7pm, at St. Boniface.
We’re in Genesis, but we can look
at anything you like.

And if something else would help,
let me know!

In our homilies,
the priests try to offer some insights;
no question we could do better.

But again—I ask you to do your part:
Let us know!

Tell us what made sense—
and, I really mean this—
Tell when it didn’t!
All us priests need to hear that.

Let me end with this.
The glory the Apostles saw in Jesus—
where did it come from?

The answer, of course,
is that it was there all the time—
they simply needed his help to see it.

I want to do my part
to help you see that Glory;
But ultimately, Jesus himself does that.
If we ask—I mean, really ask—He will.


EC Gefroh said...

Father, I don't use this word too often but this was awesome!! You explained the Transfiguration of our Lord in a way that finally made sense to me. Mahalo nui loa!

Anonymous said...

Father, there is something I don't understand about you. In your sermons you expess your ideas so eloquently, and the ideas are noble ones with the clear ring of truth. You really get the message of Jesus across powerfully. You seem like a spiritual and pastoral leader.

Yet in many of your other postings you sound angry, cynical, and strident, lashing out at a large variety of people and situations. I know there is alot going on in the world that we can be upset about, but who is served when one is so angry so often and with so many? If you act in this dual nature within your parish, will your flock mirror your anger instead of radiating the love of Christ? I wonder if someone important to you modeled anger and cynicism, then you absorbed it without being aware of its negative character?

My words do not in any way constitute criticism, but merely bafflement. I so admire your knowledge and energy, and you are most articulate as well.
You have the tools for accomplishing grand opbjectives.

Anonymous said...

Dear Father,

Another fabulous homily. You have explained the event not only in its historical context - using our Jewish roots - but also addressed the 'And so what?' part - what should this mean and do for me - today in 2006 in America. You have given examples of 'actionable items' to help me strive for being transfigured myself. All of this was done on a level that a group of many different people would understand, in language that is rooted in Scripture but not a masters level course and short enough so that people's attention span is not hugely challenged. I always look forward to your homilies. Thanks for posting on Saturday - so I can read along with the readings before Mass.


I completely agree with your comments about Father's homilies but I was a bit surprised by you comments about the rest of his posts. I hadn't gotten that at all so I went back and read/scanned several weeks worth of 'non - homily' postings and still don't see it. What I do see, however (and this was the overarching feeling I had prior to going back to read) is that Fr. Fox is very masculine in his approach. I'm glad he shows anger when the item he is posting about should bring rightous anger to our minds - especially the minds of our leaders and fathers. He is very direct (that doesn't mean he is not sensative) and again - that tends to be a very masculine trait (not that women don't have that too). So - I guess my reading is that he is very masculine in his approach which doesn't always fit into the current secular - 'let's all sit in a circle and share our feelings' approach. Just my read on the other postings.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comments, Jackie, and they are well taken.

I think my concern about Fr. Fox's anger could be influenced by the expectation I have regarding Catholics, that Catholics in general are quick to express anger about a variety of things. But another part is taken from remarks contained within some of his postings, not necessarily in his own blog but in other Catholic blogs which I scan and where I happen to view his comments among those of others.

It is true that sometimes people are just being funny but in print it looks sarcastic, etc. Maybe you know Fr. Fox personally and thus have a different interpretation. I have never met him. On the surface it often seems like he is being typically Catholic in his attitudes toward the nonCatholic world. (Yet where have Catholics developed their frequently-hostile attitudes toward "outsiders" - have they have absorbed it from the clergy?)

What you say is true, that we all have cause to feel righteous anger at times. But there are so many things we could be angry about that anger could turn into a habit, esp where it is turned outward toward groups other than our own. That is kind of where I see Fr. Fox acting annoyed. But I agree with you that he's a great priest!

Anonymous said...

Father Martin,

Come back to the south of Dayton. Very rarely have I found a Bible Study led by a priest. We missed our chance at St. Albert's.


My take on Fr. Martin's posts, comments, etc. is that he is not angry but passionate. He is passionate about his beliefs and about the Truth. I have met Father as I was member of one of his parishes. He tells it like it is. Father Martin is also humble and merciful and human. (He can be funny, too.)

I was thrown by the comment that the typical Catholic attitude is one of anger and hostiliy.

Fr Martin Fox said...


Whenever you see a post or comment that you think is "angry," "cynical," "strident" or "lashing out at a large variety of people and situations," please don't hesitate to comment at that time.

To ask me now about comments I made here and there doesn't strike me as very appropriate.

And, I think it would be far more appropriate to couch your statements in terms of what you perceive, rather than simply characterize me as "angry." I do not accept that characterization; but I cannot contest your perceptions.