Sunday, February 25, 2024

Who needs this? (Sunday homily)

 There are a lot of puzzles in the readings today. 

What do we make of them?

Mystery number one: 

why would God tell Abraham to offer his only son Isaac as a sacrifice?

To work it out, let’s eliminate the impossible.

First: God did NOT want Abraham to sacrifice Isaac; 

God had no NEED for Abraham to do that. 

So where did this even come from?

Remember, Abraham has been on a long journey of faith.

Slow growth, two steps forward, one step back. Sound familiar?

So it’s also very easy to understand why Abraham would get to a point where he’d say, I’m finally ready! Let me show you!

It was Abraham who needed the test.

And so, just at the last moment God says, 

“I know now how devoted you are.” 

God didn’t learn anything he didn’t already know. 

But what do you suppose it meant for Abraham 

to hear those words from God? 

Now let’s turn to puzzle number two: 

what is the transfiguration of Jesus in the Gospel about? 

What does it mean?

Jesus knows who he is. The Father knows who he is. 

But do Peter, James and John? 

This happens after Peter has said to Jesus, 

“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 

And yet, when the Lord reveals to Peter 

that he will be crucified, Peter is aghast; he can’t accept that.

An ancient tradition holds 

that this event happened 40 days before Jesus was executed; 

that’s why we read it every year on the second Sunday of Lent.

This revelation of Jesus’ glory was something the Apostles needed. 

They needed to hear from heaven: “This is my beloved son.”

So now let’s deal with puzzle number three.

The glory that Jesus unveils was always there, but usually hidden.

Now that we’re thinking about that, 

are there more glories hidden in plain sight? 

Well, you and I know there are.

We might think of Creation around us

Whether you’re a scientist, or doctor, or a gardener,

Or a parent, gazing at your own children,

The more you look, the more glory you find.

We might think of the building-blocks of our Catholic Faith:

The sacraments, the Mass, and our prayer.

On the surface, they may seem ordinary.

I remember saying as a boy: “Mass is boring!” 

And not appreciating the peace and power of the Rosary.

When you and I are baptized, we didn’t look any different.

Yet we were clothed in the glory of the Lord –

the exact same glory the Apostles were shown.

When Holy Mass happens, on the surface you see a familiar building, priests and servers and readers and everyone else, very ordinary.

And yet, on this altar, Good Friday and the Resurrection happen!

At this altar, you and I are surrounded by the angels and saints, 

who fall down in adoration along with us!

The Holy Eucharist is not just a thing; 

not just a bit of bread or a sip of wine, no!

We are offered the gift of Jesus’ own self, 

his Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity!

Jesus gave this moment to the Apostles, because he knew the dark trials just ahead, a few weeks.

What fear or anxiety are you facing?

Perhaps you are standing with someone in agony,

The way Mary, Mary Magdalene, the Apostle John and others

stood at the foot of the Cross?

Are you facing darkness and trial? 

You and I, too, need to see the hidden glory. 

God didn’t need it, we need it so we remember the glory that is ours, 

to face the trials ahead for each of us.

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