HIGHS AND LOWS -
BOTH ARE PART OF THE DEAL
The title of my homily is “Highs and Lows - Both Are Part of the Deal.”
Today - August 6th is the feast of the Transfiguration - and since August 6th happens this year on a Sunday - we’re celebrating this feast of Jesus - on this Sunday. It knocks out the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
THE SCENE - THE STORY
You know the scene, you know the story. Jesus takes the big three - up the mountain - Peter, James and his brother John. I would have liked it, if Jesus took Andrew along for the trip - but no.
People have favorites - and sometimes we’re not in on the deal. Better get used to it. It’s called “Life”.
And Jesus changes. He is seen in a new light. Jesus is transfigured. As Mathew describes Jesus, “His face shone like the sun and his clothes become white as light.”
A bright cloud cast a shadow on the 3 disciples and they hear a voice come out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
And it’s such a powerful experience that Peter says, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
All three fall down in awe. They hit bottom. They are back to their beginnings - hopeless and helpless - down to earth from which we came. They are Adam and Eve - and God needs to rebreathe new life into them.
And Jesus says, “Rise, and do not be afraid.”
That’s the Transfiguration story. How do you take it?
There are many life lessons in this Transfiguration Story and this Transfiguration scene.
As you know Pope John Paul II gave us 5 more mysteries to reflect upon when we say the Rosary. The 4th mystery for the Light Bearing Mysteries of the rosary is the Transfiguration.
What do you reflect upon if you say the rosary and reflect upon this mystery.
Let me give two short reflections. There are many more.
FIRST REFLECTION: LIFE HAS ITS UPS AND DOWNS
We have all seen a heart monitor or an electrocardiogram.
Our pulse gives off an up and a down motion.
If we flat line we’re dead.
Life has its mountains and its valleys. Life has its ups and downs.
Life has its bumps and potholes. Life has its hills and it’s dips.
If you go up Bestgate Road - past the Mall and you go over General’s Highway - and if you don’t take a right or a left - but you go straight ahead - onto Housley Road - a continuation of Bestgate which ends there - say you’re heading for Best Buy, you have to slow down right there - there’s a dip - you can’t take it too fast - then you can speed up and slip up the hill - going by the Department of Motor Vehicles on your left.
The road of life has its ups and downs - ins and outs - rights and lefts - slow downs and speed it up.
The surface of this planet earth has its mountains and valleys, its caves and caverns, its rights and lefts and reversals. We can see all this anytime we look around and see where we are - where we’ve been and what we’re headed for.
So too our lives.
I do a lot of weddings and a lot of funerals and a lot of baptisms - besides plain old plain old every day.
The young bride’s smile - her skin is perfect - and we look out and see her great-great grandmother sitting there in church - and then we see her as well as on Table # 2 - with the wrinkles and the retreads of age. But she also has the stuff of lived life in her - and if we listen to her - and hear her stories - her face lights up. She becomes transfigured.
And sometimes when we listen to old folks - when they tell us about their life - especially their transfiguration moments - we hear the sentence in today’s gospel, “This is my beloved daughter!” or “This is my beloved Son. Listen to them.”
So that’s my first reflection: life has its ups and downs, its highs and lows, the title of my homily.
SECOND REFLECTION: CHRIST THE SON OF MAN WENT THROUGH EVERYTHING WE GO THROUGH AS WELL
In today’s first reading we have a section of the Book of Daniel which has mysterious images and messages.
Today’s reading is obviously picked because it has the phrase, “The Son of Man”. We hear this phrase more in the Gospels - and the scholars simply say it’s a term, a phrase, that has many meanings.
In the Book of Daniel it might mean that the author of that document saw a hope that a new king, a new Messiah, would come - who would make all things right. One of us - a human - a king - a savior - a son of man and woman - would come and save us.
Think about life. In every human being there are times when we want a savior: the right doctor, the right therapist, the right leader, the right human, who will step up and save us
In the gospels, that idea - that image - of the Son of Man who will come and save us - is used and attached to Jesus - who is our savior and redeemer. And he is human - besides being God.
So we hear Jesus entitled both Son of God and Son of Man - one of us who made it.
Paul will develop the most about Jesus when it comes to Christology - which means - Words about Christ.
Jesus, the Son of Man was the same as us - except for sin.
Jesus, the Son of Man, suffered and sweated, was listened to and was rejected.
Jesus, the Son of Man, was exalted and defaulted.
Jesus, the Son of Man, had his Palm Sunday moment - when all sang his praise - but the following Friday - labeled Good Friday - he felt life when everything bad happens. It takes a lot of prayer and growth when we can label a bad day - a bad time in our life - a good day - a Good Friday experience. It takes the cross, the crucifixion, the being cursed and spat at - and Easter - Resurrection - before we can make a horrible life experience a good experience - especially when we come out of the other side of a horror story with growth and new life and new learnings.
I’m not an alcoholic - I never drank in my life - but I’ve been to many AA retreats and meetings - and I’ve heard many a speaker tell how the horror years have given them an education - in the so called “School of Hard Knocks”.
We’ve all heard about street smarts.
We’ve all heard people say, “Experience is the best teacher.” Wise people say, “Mistakes can be the best teachers.” That is, if we learn from our mistakes.
So Jesus had this enormous mountain moment in today’s gospel - when he has a great shining moment - and Jesus says, “Don’t talk about what you just saw till after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.
I like the theology of the Son of Man to mean that Jesus represents all of us - when he walked amongst us - and experienced everything we experience - except iPhones and Siri.
So Jesus, the Son of Man, had his holocaust, his rape, his abuse, his being bullied, his being murdered, crucified, during his life - but especially on that Friday called Good Friday in Holy Week. On that bad Friday he learned and taught us a lot.
But like everything we learn, it’s from looking back that we learn. Those are what we call transfiguration- resurrection moments.
Christ went before us and modeled for us - what it’s like to be human - what it’s like to be what God the Father wants us to be - and it’s then we please God - well please God - as his beloved Son or Daughter.
One of us made it - so all of us can make it.
One of us was described by God, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
My homily is about life.
Life is about ups and downs, highs and lows, and when we learn about all this - we can have transfiguration moments.
So when we live enough life, when we reflect and pray and bring God into our life - we can have transfiguration moments.
If you have hit 50 I would hope you have had at least 3 Transfiguration moments. It could be at Mass. It could be while taking a shower. It could be while sitting in the airport waiting for our plane. It could be at the Ocean City - on the beach - when we got up early to walk the beach - and we experience the sun rise - and we know - we just know, God is with us. It could be in the middle of a nasty break up, a Cavalry Moment, and we are able to see and say, “Father forgive him or her because she doesn’t know what he or she is doing.”
It could be in the hospital - and we’re in for a major operation. Or we’re with a family member going through hell - and we yearn for heaven.
One key is when we say in the middle of pain and hurt, “Lord, it’s good that I am here.”
When we are able to say that, we’re getting it.
The big one will be when we wake up in eternity - in the embrace of our God - and we say, “Lord, it’s good that we are here.”