Quote for Today - August 7, 2013 "Whether angels play only Bach in praising God, I am not sure. I am sure, however, that en famille they play Mozart." Karl Barth, quoted in the New York Times, obituary, December 11, 1968 "En famille" - French for "with one's family"
The title of my homily is “Transfiguration Moments.”
They happen. How many have happened to you? Describe them!
THEY HAPPENED TO JESUS
Jesus had a few Transfiguration Moments that we know of.
There was that moment on the mountain - that we heard in
today’s gospel - when Jesus shone like the sun.
It was a moment with his 3 key disciples: Peter, James and
They saw him in prayer. And wow could he pray.
His face changed. Bright light radiated off the skin of his
forehead and cheeks. His clothes became dazzling white.
Notice its connection to a future moment in the garden - on the night
before he died. In both scenes Peter and
the disciples had fallen asleep.
In the Transfiguration scene, they were awakened by the
spectacular in the scene.
At that moment on the mountain they saw Jesus with 2
mysterious figures: Moses and Elijah.
They saw a cloud moving over them, enveloping them.
They heard a voice say, “This is my chosen Son; listen to
It was a transfiguration moment - a transfiguring experience.
His disciples were frightened,
His disciples wanted to stay there forever.
Jesus knowing they couldn’t contain this experience, Jesus
knowing they couldn’t explain this experience, told them to keep this personal
and private - till his exodus experience in Jerusalem - which was to come.
Jesus had a similar transfiguration moment at his Baptism -
in the Jordan
- when a cloud came over him. Like at the Noah’s ark story, a dove indicated
where to land and start again. A voice said, “You are my Son, the Beloved, my
favor rests on you.”
The title of my homily is, “Transfiguration Moments.”
Jesus had a few of them - at his birth in Bethlehem - when a great crowd of angels
praised God - singing, “Glory to God in the highest - peace on all those on
whom his favor rests.” Then there were the moments before he died: in the upper
room, at Calvary, and all those resurrection
People were transfigured by Jesus - changed by him - in
their transfigured moments with him - especially Paul on his way to Damascus - when a light
blinded him. He gets to Damascus
- not with his destructive urges - but with new life - as a transfigured human
WHAT HAVE BEEN OUR TRANSFIGURATION MOMENTS?
People have transfiguration moments - moments when they saw
the light - moments that changed their lives: the birth of a baby; a sunrise at
the ocean; waking up and seeing the face of a sleeping spouse in the morning
light; seeing a son or a daughter graduate or marry or have their first
grandchild; seeing a 7 year old play a piano or a trombone - in a kids’
People have transfiguration moments - transcendental moments
- moments filled with light and joy - insight and the shattering of darkness -
at Mass while singing a hymn like, “Joyful,
Joyful, We Adore Thee,” to the music of Ode
to Joy by Ludwig van Beethoven - or at
a picnic in the park with one’s family -or we’re at a parents 60th
wedding anniversary - or the death of a loved one.
People have transfiguration moments - like the 3 million people at the World
Youth Final Mass at the CococabanaBeach in Rio just
two weeks ago. Will that moment solidify their faith life - life in Christ for
life - for those people?
Today we’re celebrating the Feast of the Transfiguration - whose Gospel Message
- is that Christ is the Light of the World - that Christ can transform our
lives - his light can penetrate all darkness.
One of its key messages is that Christ is not only the light
of the world - but that we are called to be light to our world. As Pope Francis
told the young people of Brazil
- we are called to spread the faith to the fringes of society.
May Christ’s light shine in all the corners of our life - so
that we can spread that light to all corners of the world. Amen.
Quote August 6, 2013 "O Nature, and O soul of man! how far beyond all utterance are your linked analogies! not the smallest atom stirs or lives on matter, but has its cunning duplicate in mind." Herman Melville [1819-1891] Moby Dick, Chapter 70. COMPARE Compare that comment with the following comments: "The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophes." Albert Einstein [1879-1955], from Ralph E. Lapp, The Einstein Letter That Started It All. In the New York Times Magazine [August 2, 1964] "Nature is neurtal. Man has wrested from nature the power to make the world a desert or to make the deserts bloom. There is no evil in the atom; only in men's souls." Adlai Ewing Stevenson [1900-1965], Speech at Hartford Connecticut [September 18, 1952]
The title of my homily for this 18th Monday in Ordinary Time is, “Avoiding The Title, ‘Complainer’ At The
At many funerals there is a eulogy - by a family member or a
friend. It’s a description - or a
rendering of the person who died - usually edited - to avoid the negatives - to
help all deal with the death of a loved one.
Hopefully, there will be many positive comments.
Then there is the unofficial eulogy - the real one of the
person who died. Most of the time it’s kept within - but sometimes people
whisper - with hand to their mouth, “You know, she was a complainer.” Or “He
liked to “gripe, growl, and groan.” Hopefully,
there will be some good stuff as well.
The title of my homily is, “Avoiding The Title, ‘Complainer’
At The Funeral Parlor.”
In today’s two readings - especially the first reading -
folks are complaining. In the Book of
Numbers they are complaining about the horrible food in the desert. They also start voicing a basic complaint: we
should never have moved in the first place.
The gospel complaint is about inconvenience - of having to
feed all these folks. The disciples want Jesus to dismiss the crowd.
Jesus says: “Feed the crowd.”
TELL ME YOUR COMPLAINTS AND I’LL TELL YOU WHO YOU ARE.
Is there a definitive list of life’s top ten complaints?
I don’t know. That’s my first response to that question. Now
I’ll be on the lookout for the most frequent gripes or complaints of people.
My guess would be that the list would contain: food,
weather, noise, interruptions, traffic, aches and pains, not getting my way - and
Yet, I don’t know. I have to think a bit more about all
I would think a basic question is whether most of my
complaints are about myself or others. The answer to that would tell me a lot
Complaining about sloppiness, mismanagement, lateness,
laziness, might indicate that I’m a neat person. Show me your house, your
closets, the trunk of your car, and if it’s very neat, I might be able to tell
you what you complain about. I would assume it would be the opposite:
sloppiness and lazainess.
Knowing our pet peeves - would also tell us a lot about
Listening to a person’s political complaints will tell
others what TV news channel that person might watch for news.
The title of my
homily is, “Avoiding The Title, ‘Complainer’ At The Funeral Parlor.”
I was talking to a
lady yesterday who has lost her hair and a lot more - because of cancer. She
and her husband are praying for a cure, and she’s going for another major
surgery next week, yet she said with a rich smile: “Death it’s a part of life!
Mark Twain in
Wilson’s Calendar, Chapter 10, wrote, “All say, ‘How hard it is that we
have to die’ - a strange complaint to come from the mouths of those who have
had to live.”
I would assume then
that the bottom line is gratitude and joy for all the days of life we have had
so far - for our food - our home - where we live, our relatives and friends, and our hope for more - and we learn to enjoy
them all - before we die. Amen
Quote for Today - August 5, 2013 "Being with an insanely jealous person is like being in a room with a dead mammoth." Mike Nichols, New York Times, May 27, 1984 Question: Which came first, the dead mammoth in the room or the living elephant in the room?
[This is a story homily - based on today’s readings - for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year C. It’s entitled, “He Couldn’t Speak.”]
He couldn’t speak - but he could see.
He couldn’t speak - but he could think.
He couldn’t speak - but he could cry.
And so Jack sat in his blue vinyl seat - in his standard wheelchair
- with stainless steel bars - hard rubber wheels - watching everyone in the
He couldn’t write - his stroke - pretty much wiped out his
ability to tell others what he was
thinking - what was going on in his mind and heart and soul.
At first it was hell.
All hell had broken loose in him.
He had everything and now he felt he had nothing - nothing -
lost - gone - in one quick stroke.
At first it was hell
- being in a room with Joe - who snored - snored - very loudly - every
night - every night.
Joe - being very much overweight - was also a wheel chair
patient - but he had one with a deluxe
size seat - dark maroon vinyl - with more stainless steel metal than Jack’s
Joe could talk - but it drove Jack crazy at first - “Talk.
Talk. Talk!” Jack would say in his brain of Joe, “Talk. Talk. Talk. Talk!” Then
that was followed by an inward litany, “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!”
So Jack loved it when a nurse or an attendant would ask, “Do
you want to sit outside and get some fresh air?”
With his eyes and a learning to smile, smile, Jack would
always say, “Yes. Yes. Yes. Get me out of here.”
Jack had few visitors. His wife had left him many years
earlier. They had two children: Jack Jr. who lived on the other side of the
country and Sonya - who lived on the other side of the county. Neither had kids.
Both were divorced. Jack Jr. was in a second marriage.
Before his stroke - Jack had everything - stress on things.
After his stroke - Jack had nothing - really nothing.
His kids - Jack Jr. and Sonya - met and decided on selling
the house - and his cars - one of which was a green and white 1954 Eldorado Cadillac
convertible - which Jack loved to ride in - all by himself - actually - in
every Fourth of July - town parade. They put the money in the bank - in an
account for him - and Sonya and Jack Jr. decided that Sonya - since she was
closest - and Jack Jr. was very successful - and didn’t need anything - Sonya
would visit their dad on a regular basis - and get everything when Jack Senior
- their dad - would die.
Jack Jr. and Sonya with a lawyer visited Jack Sr. in the
nursing home and told them all this and he nodded agreement with everything. At
that point, he really didn’t care. They got it notarized - so they had a plan.
Just get it done.
The house was sold - everything was sold - the money was put
in the bank - and Sonya would visit her dad at least once a week - and find him
either in the corridor - or in outside alcove in the middle of the nursing home
complex - depending on the weather.
Jack didn’t care about any of the money or the house stuff.
He was stuck in anger because his whole life went down the tubes. He was just
stuck in a hell in his mind - in that blue vinyl seated wheelchair.
Time ticked on. Physical Therapy - Speech Therapy - did very
What nobody knew was the spiritual therapy that was about to
begin in Jack’s brain and being.
The electric shock moment was the Mass moment.
One Sunday morning Jack looked over to the TV screen Joe was
watching. Joe - had to watch this Sunday
Mass every Sunday - because that would be the first question Joe’s wife,
Angela, would ask him when she arrived around noon. “Did you go to Mass today?”
Jack had been Catholic, but never went to Mass.
The priest on the TV screen was rattling on that Sunday morning with a
sermon that was very short and disjointed. The priest was talking about the
first reading for the day. He kept quoting
the opening words of that first reading, “Vanity of vanities..,, All
things are vanity!”
Jack was wondering who the Kardashians were….
Jack really didn’t hear anything else in that sermon about
“Vanity of Vanities ... and all is vanity”.
What clawed and floored him was the
gospel story the priest read out loud before his sermon. In an electric lighting flash Jack realized he
was the man Jesus was talking about - the man with the barns - who was planning
on bigger and bigger barns - bigger and better everything - and Jesus said the
poor fellow was to die that night as he dreamed about bigger and better
tomorrows and years to come.
Jack couldn’t speak - but he could cry.
He turned to the wall. He didn’t want to see anyone or
anyone to see him. And he couldn’t move his
arms or hand to wipe the tears from his eyes.
And he knew Joe’s whole family - wife and kids and grandkids
were about to show up - as they always
did on Sunday at noon - and take over the room - and their grand children loved
to take each other for rides in Joe’s wheelchair.
Sure enough - they came. They came in hoards that Sunday -
Jack turned around in his bed and watched Joe’s family in
Jack wished the little girls would borrow his wheelchair.
When one gal sat in it - he motioned with his nose and his head - and his face
with a rich smile, “Take it. Take if for a ride!”
She did and that became one of the first great signs of
Jack’s new outlook on life - thinking of others. Celebrating others -
celebrating living by giving.
As a result of Jack’s signaling to the little girl to use
his wheelchair, Joe’s grandkids became famous for wheelchair racing in the
corridor outside Joe and Jack’s room.
The nurses seeing Jack’s chair without Jack in it - went into the room and were
about to ask him if it was okay. Seeing the smile on his face from his bed -
they knew it was perfect - because they never saw him smile before.
Around 3:00 PM that afternoon, Jack was sitting outside in
the front of the nursing home. This was a first for him.
Surprise, Sonja showed up in the 1954 Green and White Eldorado Cadillac Convertible.
Double surprise. There was her dad - in
his wheelchair - sitting outside in the sun - near the front entrance of the
nursing home - hoping she would come.
“Uh oh!” she thought. “I know he thinks we sold it.”
As she headed towards him she saw a great big smile on his
“Uh oh!” she thought. “Something’s different.”
“Okay, dad,” she said, “I couldn’t sell the convertible. It
is too precious. It is too much you. So I had to keep it.”
He motioned with his face, with his eyes, with his neck and
head going up and down with a “Yes” signal - that this was wonderful.
“You mean it’s okay dad,” said Sonya - and she started to
cry and smile and go over and give him a first big real hug in years.
And after that, all was great for Jack.
He got to love to hear Joe’s stories about his life - and his family - and he
loved it when Joe’s grand kids would sit in Jack’s bed as the whole family
laughed and shared food with each other.
And their tiny nursing home room - #607 - with its two beds
and two wheelchairs - became home and playground - picnic area and therapy
center - chapel and cathedral for them.
"I've given my memoirs far more thought than any of my marriages. You can't divorce a book." Gloria Swanson [1899-1983], New York Times, March 10, 1979 Photo: from movie - Beyond the Rocks, 1922 - with Rudolph Valentino [1895-1926]