The Transfiguration of the Lord, Year A
Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
Psalm 97:1-2, 5-6, 9-12
2 Peter 1:16-19
There are times in the gospels when Jesus goes off alone to pray. Generally, we are not told of what Jesus does in prayer. Today is different. We are giving a vivid description of what happens as Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up on the mountain.
Why does Jesus pick this time to take them with him? Well, we need to know what has just happened. If you read the previous chapter before this passage, you see that Jesus has just told the disciples for the first time about his coming passion. They are greatly troubled by this and need reassurance.
To give them reassurance, Jesus takes them with him so they can see what happens. We are told that “he was transfigured before then; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.”
Peter, James, and John see Jesus in his glory. It had to be a very powerful sight. Yet, they might not have understood what they saw if it was something brand new.
Such an image for God was not brand new. Our first reading from Daniel contains the description of the vision of God where “His clothing was bright as snow, and the hair on his head as white as wool.” With this in mind, the image of Jesus transfigured helps Peter, James, and John understand who Jesus truly is, the Son of Man, the Son of God.
They had come to believe he was the Messiah but he is even more. Moses’ presence signifies that Jesus is the fulfillment of what the Law really offers us. Elijah’s presence signifies that Jesus is the fulfilment of what the prophets foretold. Add to this, the divine voice that says, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased, listen to him.”
Wow! Peter, James, and John were blessed to have been eyewitnesses to this. We are blessed that, after ‘the Son of Man had been raised from the dead’ that they shared their experience.
Peter recognizes the grace of the moment when he says “Lord, it is good that we are here.” Peter offers to make three tents. I think this is a sign that he wants the experience to last.
One might say that the way Peter, James, and John looked at Jesus was forever changed (and hence “transfigured”) by what they saw. It would be a life changing moment. Peter was right to want to last.
I don’t know as anyone here has ever seen Jesus revealed in his glory like he was in the Transfiguration but perhaps we can think about a moment when we were acutely aware of God’s presence in our lives.
We know that God is present everywhere but it isn’t always easy to be aware of his presence. We build our churches in ways to help us be aware of God’s presence. The altar and the crucifix remind us of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. The Stations of the Cross remind us of the suffering that Jesus went through for us. The images of the saints in the windows and statues remind us of their quest to follow Jesus.
As Catholics we believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. When we receive the consecrated host, we have God incarnate within us.
Before we get to the distribution of Communion, there is the point right after the Lamb of God where I as the priest hold up the consecrated elements and say, “Behold the Lamb of God.” At that moment we can see Jesus but it is only a moment.
Recognizing the sacredness of that moment, our Catholic Church has a practice called “Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.” We place the Blessed Sacrament, the consecrated host, in a monstrance on the altar.
For those who don’t know what a monstrance is, I have put the two we have out here for you to see, one on other side in front of the ambo and the commentator stand. You can see it as gold but the greatest value is what we put inside it. Right now, both monstrances are empty. If you come up after Mass, you can see the center is empty. That is where we put the Blessed Sacrament. During Exposition only a single monstrance is used and it is placed on the altar for us to gaze upon.
During our Year of the Eucharist we want to reintroduce the practice of Exposition. Starting in September, on the third Wednesday of the month at 6:00 p.m. we will have a Holy Hour with Exposition.
To start with our holy hour will include some biblical readings, perhaps some music, a 10 or 15 minute talk by me relating to the Eucharist and some quiet time.
I encourage you to mark your calendars. Come with an open mind. I remember when I first starting going to Holy Hours. I kept waiting for an experience like Peter, James, and John at the Transfiguration. I was disappointed because I came with the wrong expectation. After a couple of times, I said, “Okay Lord, one more time. I’m not going in expecting anything.” I went in expecting nothing and I got “grace.” I let go of my expectations and let God be God.
This is an amazing clarification of the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist.
I have a question to ask. How do we explain to Non Catholics & Other Christian Denominations in a mass that they can’t take but to fold their arms for a blessing only.
Awaiting for an explanation from you
The issue of sharing Communion between denominations can be a difficult one. Some denominations believe it is not really Jesus. They see Communion only as a reenactment in the sense of a historical play of what Jesus did 2,000 years ago at the Last Supper. Some of those who hold to this belief believe that we, as Catholics, are offering a new sacrifice when we call our celebration of the Eucharist a sacrifice.
First, to the question of it really being Jesus, our belief in the Real Presence, that the bread and wine as changed, transubstantiated, into the Body and Blood of Jesus comes to us directly and literally from Scripture. The gospels contain Jesus’ words, “This is my body” (Matthew 26:26, Mark 14:22, Luke 22:19). Jesus does not say pretend this is my body. He says, “This is my body.” As Catholics, we take these words of Jesus’ very seriously.
As to the misunderstanding that we see the Eucharist as a new sacrifice, we do not. When we call the Eucharist a sacrifice, it is the same sacrifice that Jesus made 2,000 years ago on the Cross made present for us today. Also in Luke 22:19, Jesus said, “Do this is memory of me” followed in Luke 22:20 by, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you” uniting the Eucharist to his sacrifice on the Cross when his blood is shed for us. Jesus makes the Eucharist a “memorial, a perpetual institution” (cf. Exodus 12:14) in a way that only he can.
Because it is the Eucharist, it is the source and summit of our faith (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1324), we hold it with the highest regard and only those who believe in the Real Presence and what the Catholic Church teaches are to receive it. This is why our Catholic faith says that we do not give Communion to non-Catholics. We do believe in praying and offering blessings upon others so that we all come to know Jesus more fully.
I hope this answers your question. If not, ask more.