Sunday, February 28, 2010

2nd Sunday of Lent

Wow… I can believe it has been 9 weeks since the last time I was up here! I don’t know if you remember but the last time I preached was… The day after Christmas! Back then I were getting ready for our mission trip to Jamaica, but most importantly… I didn’t have a beard! ... Would you believe that with all this time I had the hardest time preparing today’s homily?? It might have been, because I felt a bit rusty but I think the real reason is for this was because the transfiguration story is not one of the easiest readings to preach about. There is an almost dream like tone to this episode of the life of Jesus. The dazzling white clothing, the appearance of Moses and Elisha, the voice coming from a cloud are things we might see in a sci-fi movie but they are not things we can relate to our daily experiences.
Don’t get me wrong…all of these things I just mentioned have a deep significance to every Christian because they reveal to us the divine nature of Jesus. However the reality is that it is difficult to find a meaningful message that could be applied in our daily lives from a voice coming out of clouds. So it occurred to me that to find a practical meaning in these readings we have to look closely not to Jesus but the apostles. They were the ones that witnessed this event. They are the ones that can tell us what does the revelation of Jesus divine glory means to us.
Luckily, the reading is very explicit about their reactions. The Gospel tells us that, they were asleep and that when they saw His glory they became fully awake. Furthermore… You might think that when one is contemplating Jesus in all of His glory, one would just stand there in awe, but the apostle did something different, they sprang into action... They felt compelled to build tents for Jesus, Moses and Elisha.
I would venture to say that this reaction is not as strange as we might think. Because my brothers and sisters, when we encounter Jesus and become fully aware of His divine presence and glory, it is as if, we had awoken from a deep sleep… When this happens we cannot just sit there His presence compels us to spring into action.
I call these moments “Transfiguration Moments” These are moments in which we wake up from the slumber of our daily life and become fully aware of God’s divine presence and glory. Now you might be thinking that these are the kind of moments that only happens to Saints or that you really need to spend days fasting and praying to have this type of encounter with God. But that is not the case. Fasting and prayer do help, especially during a time like lent, but they help not because they make us worthy or holy but because they get us out of our comfort zone. Na that is a key condition for experiencing transfiguration moments. Did you notice how Jesus took Peter, James and John by themselves to a mountain? He wanted to make sure the apostles were not distracted by the crowds or their daily lives, he wanted them to become fully aware.
Before, I mentioned our mission trip to Jamaica. I believe that this is a perfect example of a transfiguration moment. The 9 people that attended this trip are no different that you or me. But each one of them was taken away from their comfort zone and was confronted with the poorest of the poor, what Blessed Mother Teresa used to call “Jesus in all His disguises”. And judging by their reactions during and after the trip I can honestly say that they all had the same type of experience the apostles had that day in the mountains. Perhaps it was not as “flashy” as Peter’s, John’s and James’s experience but each one of these people awoke to the divine presence of God, and were compelled to respond in different ways.
Let me tell you about Cindy young woman how last year after her first trip to Jamaica decided to change college mayor and concentrate in becoming a teacher. It was obvious to many of us in this trip that someday she will return to Jamaica to teach poor children. Let me tell you about Doug, who owns a printing company. He saw the condition of the hymnals in a church we visited and volunteered his company resources to print new ones for the archdiocese of Manderville. Let me tell you about Diane a mother with grown children that decided to get involved in finding sponsors for some of the orphans we met there, and Mike and "the other" Mike, two gentlemen that after seen the conditions of the tools we were using, are currently working on sending supplies and cordless tools to help in the construction of new homes for the poor, let me tell you about Dan that after our trip decided to take his faith more seriously and now is involved with our youth Confirmation program. Let me tell you about Chris a young college student that went to Jamaica last year, before the end of our trip he was already wandering how to get the money to accompany us next year!! Each one of these people had an encounter with the risen Christ in Jamaica, became “fully awaken” and sprung into action. I’m sure that if I were to ask them they will all say that in this trip they had a Transfiguration Moment.
You might be thinking, “wow… that sounds great” but, do I have to go to Jamaica to have my own transfiguration moment? Of course not! As a matter of fact, Lent IS a perfect time to experience the transforming presence of God. This is a time in which we get out from our comfort zone, by fasting, prayer, penance and acts of mercy. I invite you in this special season not to limit yourself to just giving up chocolate of our favorite desert, but to really get out of your comfort zone and seek opportunities to find Jesus in all his disguises, and I assure you my brothers and sisters that you too will have your own transfiguration experience this holy season. Amen!