Homily – 2nd Sunday Lent C March 4, 2007

Homily — 2nd Sunday Lent C March 4, 2007

The Transfiguration by Carl Bloch 1875

“Five weeks left to go — are you ready for the Resurrection?”

That’s the question Jesus asks Peter, John, James, and us in today’s Gospel. “Are you ready to see My glory?”

Before we answer “yeah, sure, whatever.” Let’s see how ready Peter was five weeks before that first Easter.

The Transfiguration of Jesus on the Mountain we’ve just read about is traditionally said to have taken place 40 days before Jesus died.

And at the Transfiguration, Jesus is running a kind of fire drill. Just like schools run fire drills to see how ready everyone is for the real thing, so Jesus runs a Resurrection drill to see how ready His disciples are for that most real of things.

And so Jesus brings Peter John and James up a high mountain, and there He is Transfigured before them, showing them what He will soon permanently look like to them after He rises from the dead. We read in Luke His face changed in appearance (St. Matthew says It shined like the sun), His clothing became dazzling white . . . .and . . . .they saw His glory.

But, as today’s Gospel clearly shows, with only five weeks to go, the disciples are nowhere near ready for the glory they saw — nowhere near ready for the glory of the Resurrection.

What was Peter and company’s reaction when Jesus privileged them with a sneak peek of the Resurrection?

Well, to begin with, they missed out on half the vision, because they were snoozing! They were overcome by sleep St. Luke says, probably from the tough climb up the mountain. Thankfully, Jesus or Moses or Elijah must have tried to talk real loud so as to wake them up!

Once Peter is fully awake and realizes he isn’t dreaming, Peter is clueless about what he should do or say. “I’m the Rock, and this calls for some profound statement” Peter says to himself. And so Peter starts babbling on about making three tents. But as St. Luke says, he did not know what he was saying. He was out of his league.

And while Peter said It is good Lord that we are here, that’s not at all what he was feeling. St. Mark in his Gospel said he and James and John were terrified even before the dark cloud surrounded them! And that cloud and the voice of God the Father only made them more afraid.

At the end of it all, Luke says they fell silent and didn’t dare tell anyone what they had seen.

No, 5 weeks before that first Easter, they were nowhere near ready for the glory of the Resurrection. They had a lot more getting ready to do before they could handle all that glory.

And my brothers and sisters in Christ, it is the same way with us. For us sinful, fallen human beings, the glory of God can be as hard to accept as the Cross is.

Just as Peter was shown the glory of God, and he slept through half of it, so we too often sleep through and miss half of the blessings God sends us. As the saying goes “We don’t know what we got ‘til it’s gone.” How many have been given the best parents, the best spouse, and don’t realize it for so long? Or how many of us older people look back at our youth and wondered why we wasted the best years of our lives?

And then, just as Peter bungles through that glorious vision once he wakes up, how often do you and I bungle the blessings and glories God sends in our lives, even when we realize they are blessings? Think for instance of people who are blessed with wealth, or great beauty or talent, and all it seems to bring them is misery. In our pride, we tend to misuse the blessings God sends us for our own selfish purposes.

And then, we like Peter get terrified when God wants to show us His greatest blessings. When I first felt God calling me to be a priest in my early 20s, I was I think as terrified as Peter was in today’s Gospel. But I’ve been a priest now for 8 years, and I can’t think of how I could have been happier doing anything else. I also know lots of married couples who are terrified when they find out their having another baby or their first one. But after the baby’s born, they don’t know what life would be without that child.

Lent is a time when through prayer, fasting and almsgiving, we learn to to use wisely the blessings God gives us, to put God’s gifts in the right perspective, to see what is truly holy and glorious in them and what is superficial and non-essential in them. Perhaps we need to learn also not to be afraid of the gifts God has given us, or wants to give us in the future.

Scripture tells us that Peter did eventually learn to receive God’s glory gracefully. After spending five more weeks with Jesus (listening to and watching him more carefully after that experience on Mount Tabor), and partaking at the Last Supper, and experiencing Christ’s Passion, and weeping bitterly over his sins, Peter was then ready to see the glory of the Risen Christ when the real thing did happen on Easter Sunday.

And instead of being asleep, Peter was wide awake when the women came to tell him the Lord had risen early that Easter Morn. He ran right to the tomb, the Gospel says.

He wasn’t tongue tied as on the mountain, but was rather among the first to proclaim “The Lord is Risen!” to everyone who’d listen.

He didn’t feel terrified and afraid, but Rejoiced when (he) saw the Risen Lord.

I don’t know if you notice, but on Sundays in Lent at Mass we omit the Gloria, we don’t say “Glory to God in the Highest” until the Easter Triduum. This is a reminder that we aren’t ready yet for God’s glory.

No, we have five more weeks of daily prayer, fasting and almsgiving before we can fully handle the incredible blessings and glories the Risen Lord wants to give each one of us come Easter.

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