Introduction: The fourth Sunday of Lent is known as “Laetare (Rejoice) Sunday,” expressing the Church's joy in anticipation of the Resurrection of our Lord. Today’s readings both remind us that it is God who gives us proper vision in body as well as in soul and instruct us that we should be constantly on our guard against spiritual blindness.
Scripture lessons: By describing the anointing of David as the second king of Israel, the first reading, taken from the First Book of Samuel, illustrates how blind we are in our judgments and how much we need God’s help. In the second reading, St. Paul reminds the Ephesians of their new responsibility as children of light to live aschildren of the light, producing every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.” Presenting the miracle of Jesus’ giving of sight to a man born blind, today’s Gospel teaches us the necessity of opening the eyes of the mind by Faith, and warns us that those who assume they see the truth are often blind, while those who acknowledge their blindness are given clear vision. In this episode, the most unlikely person, namely the beggar born blind, receives the light of Faith in Jesus, while the religion-oriented, law-educated Pharisees remain spiritually blind. To live as a Christian is to see, to have clear vision about God, about ourselves and about others. Our Lenten prayers and sacrifices should serve to heal our spiritual blindness so that we can look at others, see them as children of God and love them as our own brothers and sisters saved by the death and Resurrection of Jesus.
Life messages: 1) We need to allow Jesus to heal our spiritual blindness. We all have blind-spots -- in our marriages, our parenting, our work habits, and our personalities. We are often blind to see and appreciate the presence of God within us as his Holy Spirit and His presence in others. Even practicing Christians can be blind to the poverty, injustice and pain around them. Let us remember, however, that Jesus wants to heal our blindness. We need to ask him to remove from us the root causes of our blindness: namely, self-centeredness, greed, anger, hatred, prejudice, jealousy, addiction to evil habits and hardness of heart. Let us pray with the Scottish Bible scholar William Barclay, “God our Father, help us see Christ more clearly, love him more dearly and follow him more nearly.”2) We need to get rid of cultural blindness. Our culture also has blind-spots. Often it is blind to things like selfless love, happiness, fidelity with true, committed sexual love in marriage, and the value of human life from birth to natural death. Our culture has become anesthetized to the violence, the sexual innuendo, and the enormous suffering in the world around us. Let us counteract this cultural blindness by experiencing Jesus dwelling within us and within others through personal prayer, meditative reading of the Bible and a genuine Sacramental life.
Lent IV [A] (3/26/2017): I Sam 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a; Eph 5:8-14; Jn 9:1-41
Anecdote# 1: "Watson, you idiot, someone has stolen our tent:” Sherlock Holmes and his smart assistant Dr. Watson go on a camping trip, enjoy a heavy barbeque dinner with a bottle of whisky, set up their tent, and fall asleep. Some hours later, Holmes wakes his faithful friend. "Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see." Watson replies, "I see millions of stars." "What does that tell you?” Watson ponders for a minute. "Astronomically speaking, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo. Time wise, it appears to be approximately a quarter past three. Theologically, it's evident the Lord is all powerful and we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, it seems we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What does it tell you?” Holmes is silent for a moment, then speaks. "Watson, you idiot, someone has stolen our tent.” Watson had missed the most obvious. He was clever enough to notice the complexities of the stars but he missed what was plain and simple. Today’s Gospel reading is about a whole lot of people who miss the point. In Jesus’ healing of a blind man, the Pharisees missed the most evident point that it was a real miracle by Divine intervention. (http://www.lothlorien.net/collections/humor/watson.html ) .
#2: "Lead kindly Light":John Henry Cardinal Newman was a professor at Oxford University. When he was an Anglican priest, along with the other scholars, he started the Oxford movement. When he was thirty-two years old, his health was bad, and he took a break from his writings and went to Europe to recuperate. But unfortunately, he contacted a deadly fever. He wanted to return to England, but no transportation was available. As he waited, his life became lonely and tedious; he was experiencing great physical and emotional despair. It is then that he penned a beautiful hymn asking God for light: “Lead, kindly Light, amid th'encircling gloom, Lead Thou me on; The night is dark, and I am far from home; Lead thou me on: Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see The distant scene-one step enough for me.” In his confusion and distress, Newman prayed to the God of Light to lead him from darkness to light, from confusion to certainty, and from sickness to health. God heard his prayer and led him home safely. In 1845, he was converted to the Roman Catholic faith. [John Rose in John’s Sunday Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho.]
# 3: Blinded by prejudice:In the late 1700s, the manager of a large hotel in Baltimore refused lodging to a man dressed like a farmer. He turned the farmer away because he thought this fellow’s shabby appearance would discredit the reputation of his distinguished hotel. The farmer picked up his bag and left without saying a further word to anyone. Later that evening, the innkeeper discovered that he had turned away none other than the Vice President of the United States - Thomas Jefferson! Immediately, the manager sent a note of apology to the famed patriot, asking him to come back and be his guest in the hotel. Jefferson replied by instructing the messenger as follows, “Tell him I have already reserved a room. I value his good intentions highly, but if he has no room for a common American farmer, then he has no room for the vice-president of the United States of America.” [Brian Cavanaugh in The Sower’s Seeds; quoted by Fr. Botelho.]
Introduction: This is the Fourth Sunday in Lent. Traditionally, this day is known as Laetare Sunday, from the Latin word for the command “rejoice,” the first word in the introductory antiphon for today’s Liturgy, (based on the words of Isaiah 66:10). The antiphon and the readings both express the Church's joy in anticipation of Jesus’ Resurrection. Today’s readings both remind us that it is God who gives us proper vision in body as well as in soul, and instructs us that we should be constantly on our guard against spiritual blindness. By describing the anointing of David as the second king of Israel, the first reading, taken from the First Book of Samuel, illustrates how blind we are in our judgments and how much we need God’s help. In the second reading, Paul reminds the Ephesians of their new responsibility as children of light: “You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of the light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.” Jesus’ giving of sight to a blind man, reported in today’s Gospel, teaches us the necessity of opening the eyes of the mind by Faith and warns us that those who assume they see the truth are often blind, while those who acknowledge their blindness are given clear vision. In this episode, the most unlikely person, namely the beggar born blind, receives the light of Faith in Jesus, while the religion-oriented, law-educated Pharisees remain spiritually blind. "There are none so blind, as those who will not see." To live as a Christian is to see, to have clear vision about God, about ourselves and about others. Today’s Gospel reminds us that we are to live as children of the light, seeking what is good and right and true. Our Lenten prayers and sacrifices should serve to heal our blindness so that we can look at others, see them as children of God and love them as our own brothers and sisters saved by the death and Resurrection of Jesus.
First reading: I Sam 16:1a, 6-7, 10-13a:For a long time, Israel had been ruled by Judges. Samuel was the last of these Judges, and towards the end of his life he had more or less succeeded in forming a loose confederation among the twelve tribes of the Israelites. But the people were displeased with the lack of unity and political security. The pagan nations which surrounded them were ruled by kings who led them to battle and who organized their territories on a sound, political basis. In spite of the Lord’s warning and the wise advice of the elders, the people wanted a king so that they could be like other nations. Finally, the Lord granted them Saul as their first king (1030 BC). Though successful in many battles, Saul offended God, and the kingship was taken from him. The Lord then prompted Samuel, the last Judge in Israel, to go to Bethlehem to anoint the next king. Today’s passage shows us Samuel's journey to find the Lord's chosen one and the ritual for anointing the new king. As an old and experienced judge who had studied how the first king (Saul) had failed, Samuel had his own ideas about whom God would choose. But God chose the most unlikely candidate, namely, David, the shepherd boy, the youngest son of Jesse. The reason given for this choice was: "Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart."
The second Reading: Eph 5:8-14: The whole passage extends the light-versus-darkness metaphor, leading to the blindness-versus-sight theme of today's Gospel. For Paul, Baptism is “participation in the death and Resurrection of Jesus” (Rom 6:3-4) and “clothing with Christ’’ (Gal 3:27). In today’s reading, taken from his letter to the Ephesians, Paul echoes Isaiah (26:19; 60:1), saying that Baptism is also an “awakening and living in the light”— that is, Christ: "Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light." That is why in the early Greek-speaking Church, Baptism came to be known as photismos meaning "an illumination or bath in light." Hence, Paul reminds Christians of their new responsibility as children of light: “You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of the light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.”
Exegesis: The paradox of blindness. The healing described in today’s Gospel occurred when Jesus came to Jerusalem with his Apostles to participate in the feast of Tabernacles or the festival of tents (Sukkoth).As part of the celebration of Sukkot, four huge golden four-branched candelabras were set up and lit in the courts of the Temple—each was 50 cubits (=75 feet) high. The Mishnah says that “there was not a courtyard in all of Jerusalem” that did not gleam with the light from the Temple menorahs when they were lit for Sukkot. The healing of the blind man, told so dramatically in today's Gospel, brings out the mercy and kindness of Jesus, "the light of the world." Isaiah prophesied, and the Jewish people of that era believed, that when the Messiah came, he would heal blindness and other diseases. The type of blindness which we now call ophthalmic conjunctivitis was very common in Biblical times. Jesus gave to the blind beggar not only his bodily eyesight but also the light of Faith. This story also shows how the stubborn pride and prejudice of the Pharisees prevented them from seeing in the humble "Son of Man” the long-expected Messiah, and that made them incapable of recognizing the miracle. When the parents of the blind man convinced them that their son had been born blind, the Pharisees argued that the healer was a "sinner," because the miracle had been performed on the Sabbath. But the cured man insisted that Jesus, his healer, must be from God. The blind man was asked: "Who healed you?" First, he answered, “A prophet healed me.” Then he answered, “The Son of Man healed me.” Finally, when he realized who Jesus was, he fell down on his knees and worshipped him. As a result, he was excommunicated. “The blind man’s progress in spiritual sight reminds us that we need God’s grace and revelation to move toward sharper spiritual vision.” (Fr. Harrington S.J.)
Blindness and Baptism: In the context of the Lenten RCIA scrutinies, the Church challenges us to see this man’s journey from darkness to light as a paradigm for our own spiritual lives—from the darkness of doubt to belief (for catechumens preparing for Baptism); from the darkness of sin to the light of repentance, mercy and freedom (for those of us already baptized, who are called to renew our Baptismal promises, and to “own” our Baptism more consciously). From earliest times, today's Gospel story has been associated with Baptism. Just as the blind man went down into the waters of Siloam and came up whole, so also believers who are immersed in the waters of Baptism come up spiritually whole, totally healed of the spiritual blindness with which all of us are born. Raymond Brown comments that in the lectionaries and liturgical books of the early Church, there developed the practice of three examinations before one's Baptism. These correspond to the three interrogations of the man born blind. When the catechumens had passed their examinations, and were judged worthy of Baptism, the Gospel book was solemnly opened and the ninth chapter of John was read, with the confession of the blind man, "I do believe, Lord," serving as the climax of the service. Paintings on the walls of the catacombs of Rome portray Jesus healing the man born blind as a symbol of Holy Baptism. One of the writings from that time says: "Happy is the Sacrament of our water, in that, by washing away the sins of our earthly blindness, we are set free unto eternal life." The early Christians looked at their Baptism as leaving behind blindness and darkness and stepping into the glorious light of God. In other words, they realized that their becoming Christians and then continuing as followers of Christ, was indeed a miracle - as great as, if not greater than, the healing of the physical blindness of the man in the Gospel today.
The spiritual blindness of the Pharisees: The Pharisees suffered from spiritual blindness. They were blind to the Holy Spirit. They had religion but lacked the spirit of Jesus’ love. They were also blind to the suffering and pain right before their eyes. They refused to see pain and injustice. There was no compassion in their hearts. In short, they were truly blind both to the Holy Spirit and to the human misery around them. “The blind man’s progress in spiritual sight is paralleled by the opponents’ descent into spiritual blindness.” (Fr. Harrington). Here is a contrast between those who know they are blind and those who claim to see. According to these blind Pharisees, Jesus, by healing the blind man doubly broke the Sabbath law, which forbade works of healing, and also kneading which was involved in making clay of spittle and dust. Raymond Brown adds a third and fourth reason that increased the seriousness of what Jesus had done: in the Jewish tradition, "there was an opinion that it was not permitted to anoint an eye on the Sabbath," and "one may not put fasting spittle on the eyes on the Sabbath." So they concluded, "The man who did this cannot be from God, because he does not obey the Sabbath law."
Spiritual blindness of modern Pharisees: Although the Pharisees have long since disappeared from history, there are still many among us who are blinded by the same pride and prejudice. Spiritual blindness is very common in modern times. Perhaps, the most awful disease in our country today is spiritual blindness. Such blindness refuses to see the truths of God's revelation. This blindness refuses even to admit that God or Christ exists. In their pride, the spiritually blind claim that everything ends with death and that there is no life after death. They propagate their errors and accuse believers of childish credulity and folly. They ignore the gifts of the intellect we all possess. God's revelation through Christ informs us that there is a future life awaiting us in which our spiritual faculties and our transformed bodies will be fully and fittingly glorified. According to Pope Benedict XVI, the miracle of the healing of the blind man is a sign that Christ wants not only to give us sight, but also open our interior vision, so that our faith may become ever deeper and we may recognize Him as our only Savior. He illuminates all that is dark in life and leads men and women to live as "children of the light" (Lenten message-2011).
Life messages: 1) We need to allow Jesus to heal our spiritual blindness. Physiologically, the “blind-spot” is the part of our eye where vision is not experienced. It is the spot where the optic nerve enters the eye ball. A blind spot in a vehicle is an area around the vehicle that cannot be directly observed by the driver.In real life, we all have blind-spots -- in our marriages, our parenting, our work habits, and our personalities. We often wish to remain in the dark, preferring darkness to light. It is even possible for the religious people in our day to be like the Pharisees: religious in worship, in frequenting the Sacraments, in prayer-life, in tithing, and in knowledge of the Bible – but blind to the poverty, injustice and pain around them. Let us remember, however, that Jesus wants to heal our blind-spots. We need to ask him to remove from us the root causes of our blindness, namely, self-centeredness, greed, anger, hatred, prejudice, jealousy, addiction to evil habits and hardness of heart. Let us pray with the Scottish Bible scholar William Barclay, “God our Father, help us see Christ more clearly, love him more dearly and follow him more nearly.”
2) We need to get rid of cultural blindness. Our culture also has blind-spots. Often it is blind to things like love, happiness, marriage, and true, committed sexual love in marriage. Our culture has become anesthetized to the violence, the sexual innuendo, and the enormous suffering of the world around us. Our culture, our media, our movies and our values, are often blind as to what it means to love selflessly and sacrificially. Our culture, in spite of scientific proofs, is blind to the reality that life begins at the moment of conception, and it callously promotes abortion. We continue to advance destructive practices such as embryonic stem-cell research, homosexual “marriages,” euthanasia, and human cloning, and we refuse to see the consequences of godless behavior on human society.In the name of individual rights, the radical left in our society decries any public demonstration of religious beliefs and practices, or the public appearance of traditional values, questioning the substance of family values. The radical right, on the other hand, decries the immorality of our times, without lifting a finger to help the poor and the underprivileged and without ever questioning unjust foreign policies and wars. This cultural blindness can only be overcome as each one of us enters the living experience of having Jesus dwelling within us and within others, through personal prayer, meditative reading of the Bible and a genuine Sacramental life.
3) We need to pray for clear vision: Peter Marshall, the former chaplain to the United States Congress used to pray, "Give us clear vision that we may know where to stand and what to stand for, because unless we stand for something, we shall fall for anything.” Today’s Gospel challenges our ability to see clearly. Do we see a terrorist in every member of a particular religion? Do we see people who are addicted to drugs as outcasts and sinners? Do we fail to see God at work in our lives because He has shown us no miracles? Jonathan Swift said, "Vision is the art of seeing things invisible." Let us remember that this gift belongs to those who can see the good hidden in the kernels of suffering and of failure. It resides in those who never give up hope. Let us pray for the grace to see and experience the presence of a loving and forgiving God.
4) Let us not allow the world and Satan to blind us so that we forget our real identity and call – that we have been created by God and bought with the blood of Jesus; that we have been adopted as God's chosen children; and so that our role is to become God's representatives in our community and our world. We are called to stand out by the way we show love and concern for others. We are called to promote justice and peace; to set an example of what it mans to live according to God's way. We are called to discipleship – that means a disciplined life of prayer and the study of God's Word, worship with our fellow Christians and standing out in the crowd (even though that may be difficult to do when it means sticking up for those who are being wronged and confessing that Christ in our lives does make a difference. It’s so easy to miss the point of what it means to be a Christian, and we end up blending in and fail to be a positive and powerful influence to bring about change in people’s lives and our world. Lent is a good time to take stock of how we are affected by this blindness, to see just how blind we have been to Jesus and His call to discipleship, and to realise how often we have preferred to stay blind. Lent is a good time to renew our vision and fix our eyes again on the Saviour who came so that we can be assured of forgiveness for such blindness, for the times when Jesus has come to us through his Word and we have been too blind to see Him calling us to action.
JOKE OF THE WEEK
#1: The blind farmer was often taken for a walk in the fields by a kind neighbor. However kindly the neighbor might have been, he was undoubtedly a coward. When a bull charged towards them one day, he abandoned the blind man. The bull, puzzled by a lack of fear, nudged the blind farmer in the back. He turned very quickly, caught the bull by the horns and threw it to the ground with a bump that left it breathless. "Aidan," shouted the neighbor, "I never knew you were so strong." "It’s the strength of Faith,” said the blind man. “If I could have got that fella off the handlebars of his bicycle, I'd have thrashed him properly." (He was under the impression that a bicycle had hit him).
#2: A blind man is walking down the street with his guide dog one day. They come to a busy intersection and the dog, ignoring the high volume of traffic zooming by on the street, leads the blind man right out into the thick of the traffic. This is followed by the screech of tires as panicked drivers try desperately not to run the pair down. Horns blaring around them, the blind man and the dog finally reach the safety of the sidewalk on the other side of the street, and the blind man pulls a cookie out of his coat pocket, which he offers to the dog. A passerby, having observed the near fatal incident, can't control his amazement and says to the blind man, "Why on earth are you rewarding your dog with a cookie? He nearly got you killed!" The blind man turns partially in his direction and replies, "To find out where his head is, so I can kick his rear end!"
#3: My face in the mirror
Isn't wrinkled or drawn.
My house isn't dirty.
The cobwebs are gone.
My garden looks lovely,
And so does my lawn.
I think I might never
Put my glasses back on.
23- Additional anecdotes are appended to the attached homily
“Scriptural Homilies”Cycle A(No. 20)by Fr. Tony:firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit our website:http://stjohngrandbay.org/for previous Cycle A & C homilies, 56Year of Faith “Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 188 “Question of the Week.” Contact me using my IDakadavil@gmail.com. For the Vatican version of this homilycopy & paste on Google Search http://en.radiovaticana.va >> Features >> Asia Liturgical Reflectionsand click Enter button.Fr. Anthony. Kadavil,St. John the Baptist Church, P. O. Box 417, Grand Bay,Al, 36541, U. S. A.
(Prepared by Fr. Anthony Kadavil and published by CBCI)
Introduction: Today’s readingsare centered on Baptism and new life. Living water represents God’s Spirit Who comes to us in Baptism, penetrating every aspect of our lives and quenching our spiritual thirst. The Holy Spirit of God, the Word of God and the Sacraments of God in the Church are the primary sources of the living water of Divine Grace. We are assembled here in the Church to drink this water of eternal life and salvation. Washed in it at Baptism, renewed by its abundance at each Eucharist, invited to it in every proclamation of the Word and daily empowered by the anointing of the Spirit, we are challenged by today’s Gospel to remain thirsty for the living water, which only God can give.
Scripture lessons:The first reading describes how God provided water to the ungrateful complainers of Israel, thus placing Jesus’ promise within the context of the Exodus account of water coming from the rock at Horeb. The Responsorial Psalm, Ps 95, refers both to the Rock of our salvation and also to our hardened hearts. It reminds us that our hard hearts need to be softened by God through our grace-prompted and -assisted prayer, fasting and works of mercy which enable us to receive the living water of the Holy Spirit, salvation and eternal life from the Rock of our salvation.In the second reading, Saint Paul asserts that, as the Savior of mankind, Jesus poured the living water of the gift of the Holy Spirit into our hearts. In the Gospel, an unclean and outcast Samaritan woman is given an opportunity to receive the living water. Jesus awakened in the woman at the well a thirst for the wholeness and integrity which she had lost, a thirst which He had come to satisfy. This Gospel passage also gives us Jesus' revelation about Himself as the Source of Living Water and teaches us that we need the grace of Jesus Christ for eternal life because He is that life-giving water.
Life messages: 1) We need to allow Jesus free entry into our personal lives. Jesus wishes to come into our “private” life, not to embarrass us, not to judge or condemn us, but to free us, to change us and to offer us what we really need: the living water of the Holy Spirit. Let us find this living water in the Sacraments, in prayer and in the Holy Bible, especially during this Lenten season. 2) We need to be witnesses to Jesus like the Samaritan woman. Let us have the courage to "be" Jesus for others, especially in those "unexpected" places for unwanted people. Let us also have the courage of our Christian convictions to stand for truth and justice in our day-to-day life. 3) We need to leave the “husbands” behind during Lent as the Samaritan woman did. Today’s Gospel message challenges us to get rid of our unholy attachments and the evil habits that keep us enslaved and idolatrous. Lent is our time to learn from our mistakes of over-indulgence in food, drink, drugs, gambling, promiscuity, or any other addiction that distances us from the living water.
LENT III [A] (March 19): Ex 17:3-7; Rom 5:1-2, 5-8; Jn 4: 5-42
Anecdote: # 1: “The dawn is coming!" During those awful days following Dr. King's assassination on April 4, 1968, pandemonium broke out across America. The New York Times sent a reporter into Harlem to interview a prominent minister. He was asked what he was going to tell his people on the following Sunday. He replied angrily, "I don't know, but it won't be about the love of Jesus." But on that following Sunday, another pastor in another large city stood in his pulpit. His name was Martin Luther King, Sr. If anyone had a right to anger or despair or revenge, it was he. But Dr. King, Sr. declared, "The night is never so dark that you cannot see a star. Hold on. Keep the Faith. The dawn is coming!" Can we really get along? Yes, with the help of Jesus. Today’s Gospel presents the detailed dialogue between Jesus and an ostracized Samaritan woman, teaching us how to get along with those who are different, sharing with them the love of God.
# 2: "No drinkin' and no dancin’ area”! A couple of Catholic young men from the North were visiting a dusty little town in the back country of West Texas. It was a hard-shell Baptist town in the Bible belt of the South: "No drinkin' and no dancin’ area”! But these two men were strangers; so they asked a cowboy where they might get a drink. "In this town," said the cowboy, "we use whiskey only for snakebite: to wash the wound as first aid." Then he added slyly, "If you guys are so thirsty for whiskey, there's only one poisonous snake in this town and that is in the zoo. So you better get a ticket to the zoo, go to the snake park, get hold of a cobra through the iron bar of its cage and give it a big hug! The zoo keeper will appear immediately with whisky.” The woman at the well had a mighty thirst, a thirst like that of these young guys for whiskey, a thirst so big that it led her through five husbands and who knows what else. And still she was thirsty — a thirst caused by the absence of God in her life. A meeting with Jesus gave her the living waters of friendship with Jesus and the anointing of the Spirit of God which restored her dignity and changed her life.
# 3: A Samaritan woman evangelist: There is a Greek monastery at Mount Athos in which nothing female is allowed. Today, it is home to 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries, and 2,000 monks from Greece and other eastern orthodox countries such as Bulgaria, Serbia and Russia. These monks live an ascetic life, isolated from the rest of the world.The Mount - actually a 335 sq km (130 sq mile) peninsula - may be the largest area in the world from which women, and female animals, are banned.Men can enter but not women, roosters but not hens, horses but not mares, bulls but not cows. Armed guards patrol the border to ensure that nothing feminine passes the gates. It has been this way for more than 700 years. [Arnold Prater, The Presence, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1993).] Separate and definitely not equal: that has been the attitude toward women of many Churches through the ages. So it's really remarkable that this particular Samaritan evangelist happens to be a woman. She would be as surprised about it as anybody. When she first met Jesus, she was surprised that even he talked to her. Once converted, she became an evangelist, enthusiastically introducing Jesus to her fellow villagers.
Introduction: Today’s readingsare centered on Baptism and new life. Today's liturgy makes use of the symbol of water to refer to our relationship with God. Waterrepresents God’s Spirit Who comes to us in Baptism. Baptism is the outward, symbolic sign of a deep reality, the coming of God as a Force penetrating every aspect of a person’s life. The Spirit quenches our spiritual thirst. Just as water in the desert was life-giving for the wandering Israelites, the water of a true, loving relationship with Jesus is life-giving for those who accept him as Lord and Savior. We are assembled here in the Church to share in this water of eternal life and salvation. The Holy Spirit of God, the Word of God and the Sacraments of God in the Church are the primary sources for the living water of Divine Grace. Washed in it at Baptism, renewed by its abundance at each Eucharist, invited to it in every proclamation of the Word, and daily empowered by the Spirit, we are challenged by today’s Gospel to remain thirsty for the living water which only God can give. The first reading describes how God provided water to the ungrateful complainers of Israel, thus placing Jesus’ promise within the context of the Exodus account of water coming from the rock at Horeb. The Responsorial Psalm, Ps 95, refers both to the Rock of our salvation and also to our hardened hearts. It reminds us that our hard hearts need to be softened by God through our grace-prompted and -assisted prayer, fasting and works of mercy which enable us to receive the living water of the Holy Spirit, salvation and eternal life from the Rock of our salvation.In the second reading, Saint Paul asserts that, as the Savior of mankind, Jesus poured the living water of the gift of the Holy Spirit into our hearts. In the Gospel, an unclean Samaritan woman is given an opportunity to receive living water. Today's Gospel tells us how Jesus awakened in the woman at the well a thirst for the wholeness and integrity which she had lost, a thirst which He had come to satisfy. In revealing himself as the Messiah to the Samaritan woman, Jesus speaks to her of the fountain of water he will give — the life-giving waters of Baptism. The water that Jesus promises is closely linked to conversion and the forgiveness of sin. Here is a woman who comes to Faith and becomes a missionary who brings others to Jesus. Jesus recognizes the gifts and ministries of women in his future Church. This is also a narrative about God wooing the outsider or, as Paul will say, “the godless.” The Samaritans, who were considered godless in general, in this town end up confessing Jesus as the Savior of “the world.” This Gospel passage also gives us Jesus' revelation about Himself as the Source of Living Water and teaches us that we need the grace of Jesus Christ for eternal life because He is that life-giving water.
The first reading: Exodus 17:3-7:Today's Gospel gives us Jesus' revelation of Himself as the Source of Living Water. Hence, the passage chosen from Exodus tells of the Jews’ complaining about their thirst, a figure of human longing for God and spiritual satisfaction. The rock which Moses strikes represents God who gives the water (God’s own life), essential for our spiritual life. This reading shows us a time when God's people literally thirsted, and God satisfied them. The Israelites had been slaves for several generations in Egypt, and for the most part had forgotten their ancestral religion and their God’s Covenant with their patriarch Abraham. Now their new leader, Moses, was telling them that their ancient Lord had at last heard their cries, and was now leading their escape from Egypt back to their homeland. In spite of the mighty deeds God had done for their liberation from Egypt, the former slaves complained that in Egypt they at least were not thirsty. It is astounding to see their lack of Faith.
The second reading:Rom 5:1-2, 5-8:In the second reading, Saint Paul asserts that, as the Savior of mankind, Jesus poured the living water, or the gift of the Holy Spirit, into our hearts. We need the Holy Spirit to sustain us spiritually, just as we need water to sustain us physically. Through Jesus, God gave us the Spirit when we were dying of thirst. Paul realized that he and all the Jews who kept the Law of Moses were trying to become justified on their own. But keeping the Law is not an adequate means of justification because we are unable to make ourselves worthy of God's favor, whether by by good works, keeping the Commandments, rituals or prayers. Grace means the gratuitous, unearned, undeserved love and favor of God for us. By living water in today’s Gospel, Jesus is referring to this grace or relationship with God and participation in His life. According to Paul, redemption or justification is the gratuitous gift of God manifested in Jesus’ saving death on the cross. By virtue of his death, Jesus has made just, or put in right relationship with God, every sinner who will appropriate His saving gifts by Faith. Faith, then, is the admission that one cannot justify oneself and that it is God who will grant us justification by His grace.
Exegesis:The conversion texts for Cycle A gospel: Since each of the persons featured in the Gospels, e.g. the woman of Samaria (Lent III Sunday), the man born blind (Lent IV) and Lazarus (Lent V), is an example of conversion, their stories offer excellent catechesis for Lenten penitents and hence they were placed in the Lenten Sunday lectionary right from the fourth century. Each of these Gospel texts also features the transforming love of Christ for those whom he calls to salvation; he is living water, light and sight for the blind, and the source of life for all who believe.
Jesus’ mission trip from Judea to Galilee: Palestine is only 120 miles long from north to south. Judea is in the extreme south, Samaria in the middle and Galilee in the extreme North. In order to avoid the controversy about baptism, Jesus decided to concentrate his ministry in Galilee. The usual route around Samaria, normally taken by the Jews to avoid the hated Samaritans, took six days. The shortcut (three days’ journey), from Judea to Galilee crossed through Samaria and, on the way to the town of Sychar, passed Jacob’s well. The well itself was more than 100 feet deep. It was located on a piece of land that had been bought by Jacob (Gn 33:18-19), and later bequeathed to Joseph (Gn 48:22).
Jesus’ encounter with an outcast sinner: When Jesus and his disciples reached the well, it was a hot midday, and Jesus was weary and thirsty from traveling. Ignoring the racial barriers and traditional hostility between Samaritans and Jews, Jesus sent his disciples to buy some food in the Samaritan town. It was at this point that a Samaritan woman came to the well to draw water. She had probably been driven away, as a moral outcast, from the common well in the town of Sychar by the other women. It was this woman whom Jesus asked for water, and it is no wonder that she was surprised, because the petitioner was a Jew who hated her people as polluted outcasts and betrayers of Judaism. The scene recalls Old Testament meetings between future spouses at wells. Jacob meets Rebekah at the well of Haran, and Moses and Zipporah meet at a well in Midian.
The background history: This mutual hostility had begun centuries earlier when the Assyrians carried the northern tribes of Israel into captivity. The Jewish slaves betrayed their heritage by intermarrying with the Assyrians, thus diluting their bloodline and creating a “mongrel race” called the Samaritans. The Assyrian men who were relocated to Israel married Jewish women, thus producing a mixed race in Israel as well. Hence, southern Jews considered all Samaritan bloodlines and their heritage impure. By the time the Samaritan Jews returned to their homeland, their views of God had been greatly contaminated. By contrast, when the southern Hebrew tribes were carried off into captivity, they stubbornly resisted the Babylonian culture. They returned from Babylon to Jerusalem, proud that they had compromised neither their religious convictions nor their culture. So when the Samaritans offered to help to rebuild the Jerusalem Temple, the southern Jews who had returned from exile vehemently rejected Samaritan assistance. Consequently, the rejected and ostracized Samaritans built their own temple on Mount Gerizim. But in 129 B.C. a Jewish general destroyed it, a slap to Samaritan dignity that stung for centuries, deepening the mutual scorn and hostility between Samaritans and Jews.
The Divine touch and conversion: So the water-seeking Samaritan woman who faced Jesus that day belonged to a heritage rejected by the Jews. In addition, she expected scorn simply because she was a woman, for in the ancient Middle East, men systematically degraded women. Finally, this Samaritan woman seemed unwanted by her own people. Since she had had five “husbands,” and was living with a sixth “lover,” she seems to have been considered by fellow villagers a social leper, and she seems to have been driven from the common well of the town by the decent women. Perhaps she had not stopped wishing that somewhere, sometime, some way, God would touch His people — that He would touch her! Jesus’ meeting the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well illustrates the principal role of Jesus as the Messiah: to reconcile all men and women to the Father. Hence, Jesus deliberately placed himself face-to-face with this person whom, apparently, no one else wanted. Jesus saw in this social outcast and moral wreck a person who mattered to God. The Samaritan woman must have unburdened her soul to this stranger because she had found one Jew with kindness in his eyes instead of an air of critical superiority. She was thirsting for love that would last, love that would fill her full and give purpose to her life.Just as Jesus confronts the woman at the well with the reality of her own sinfulness and brokenness, we must confront our own sinfulness and, in doing so, realize our need for God.
The conversion leading to witnessing: Jesus not only talked with the woman, but in a carefully orchestrated, seven-part dialogue he guided her progressively from ignorance to enlightenment, from misunderstanding to clearer understanding, thus making her the most carefully and intensely catechized person in this entire Gospel.Jesus always has a way of coming into our personal lives. When Jesus became personal with this woman and started asking embarrassing questions about her five husbands, she cleverly tried to change the subject and talk about religion. She didn’t want Jesus to get personal. But Jesus wanted to free her, forgive her, shape her life in a new direction, and change her. He wanted to offer this woman living water. At the end of the long heart-to-heart conversation Jesus revealed himself to her as the Messiah, which in turn led her to Faith in him. This growth in understanding on the part of the woman moved through several stages: first, she called him a Jew, then Sir or Lord, then Prophet, and finally Messiah. When the Samaritans came to hear Jesus because of her testimony, the affirmation of Faith reached its climax as they declared that Jesus was the Savior of the world. Step-by-step Jesus was leading her in her Faith journey. This marginalized woman's enthusiastic response, powerful personal testimony and brave witnessing stand in dramatic contrast to Nicodemus' hesitance (3:9), the crowd's demand for proof (6:25-34) and the Pharisees' refusal to acknowledge the hand of God in the healing of a blind man (9:24-34).
Life messages: 1) We need to allow Jesus free entry into our personal lives. A sign that God is active in our lives is His entering in to our personal, “private” lives. Jesus wants to get personal with us, especially during this Lenten season. Jesus wants to get into our “private” lives. We have a “private” personal life which is contrary to the will of God. Christ wishes to come into that “private” life, not to embarrass us, not to judge or condemn us, not to be unkind or malicious to us. Rather, Christ comes into our “private” personal life to free us, to change us and to offer us what we really need: living water. The living water is God the Holy Spirit Who enters the soul of the woman through Jesus and his love. We human beings are composed of four parts: mind, body, emotions and spirit. When we let God the Holy Spirit come into us and take control of our thinking, our physical activity, our emotions and our spirit, He can bring harmony to the way we live with all four parts of our humanity. We can find this living water in the Sacraments, in prayer and in the Holy Bible.
2) We need to be witnesses like the Samaritan woman, proclaiming Jesus as God and Savior through our loving lives. Let us have the courage to "be" Jesus for others, especially in those "unexpected" places for unwanted people. Let us also have the courage of our Christian convictions to stand for truth and justice in our day-to-day life.
3) We need to be open to others and accept others as they are, just as Jesus did.We have been baptized into a community of Faith so that we may become one with each other as brothers and sisters of Jesus and as children of God. To live this oneness demands that we open ourselves to others and listen to one another. We need to provide the atmosphere, the room, for all to be honestly what they really are: the children of God. It is the ministry of Jesus that we inherit and share. Jesus did not allow the woman’s status, past, attitude, or anything else to obstruct his ability to love her. And loving her, he freed her and made her whole, made her the child of God she already was. Let us also open our hearts to one another and accept each other as God’s gifts to us. Thus, we’ll experience resurrection in our own lives and in the lives of our brothers and sisters.
4) We need to leave the “husbands” behind during Lent as the Samaritan woman did.Today’s Gospel message challenges us to get rid of our unholy attachments and the evil habits that keep us enslaved and idolatrous. Lent is the time to learn from our mistakes of over-indulgence in food, drink, drugs, gambling, promiscuity, or any other addiction that may keep us from coming to the living waters of a right relationship with God. We all have our short list, don't we? And we all know, honest to God, what it is we need to leave behind before we come to the Living Water and the Bread of Heaven. Let us make an earnest attempt to do so during this Lenten season.
5) We need to turn to Jesus who loves us with non-evaluative, non-judgmental unconditional love: We all face moments when guilt plagues us and we are upset for falling for the same temptations again and again; when we make choices that turn out to be all wrong; when our relationships with others fall in a heap; when we feel lonely, sick and tired of the way people are treating us; when we are depressed and upset and can’t see anything good in ourselves; when our faith is at rock bottom and we feel as if the Church and religion aren’t doing anything for us; when we beat ourselves up for lack of enthusiasm to be true disciples of Jesus ready to do anything for him, and for days that go by without a word of prayer; when all we feel is failure and defeat. During such moments it is great to read a story about Jesus and his love and acceptance of the woman at the well. Let us rest assured that Jesus is there to accept us warmly and help us to see that he will give us the strength and the power we need to overcome whatever it is that is grieving us.
# 1: Anthony de Mello tells the story of the little girl who asks a boy, "Are you a Presbyterian?" He answers, "No, we belong to another abomination."
# 2: Baptizing cow into fish for Lent: John Smith was the only Protestant to move into a large Catholic neighborhood. On the first Friday of Lent, John was outside grilling a big juicy steak on his grill. Meanwhile, all of his neighbors were eating
cold tuna fish for supper. This went on each Friday of Lent. On the last Friday of Lent, the neighborhood men got together and decided that something had to be done about John! He was tempting them to eat meat each Friday of Lent, and they couldn't take it anymore. They decided to try and convert John to Catholicism. They went over and talked to him and were so happy when he decided to join his neighbors and become a Catholic. After an intensive training in Catholic catechism they took him to their pastor and got him baptized and announced to him: "You were born a Baptist, you were raised a Baptist, but now you are a Catholic." The men were most relieved, that their biggest Lenten temptation had been resolved. The next year's Lenten season rolled around. The first Friday of Lent came, and just at supper time, when the neighborhood was setting down to their tuna fish dinner, came the wafting smell of steak cooking on a grill. The neighborhood men could not believe their noses! WHAT IS GOING ON? They called each other up and decided to meet over in John's yard to see if he had forgotten it was the first Friday of Lent. The group arrived just in time to see John standing over his grill with a small pitcher of water. He was sprinkling some water over his steak on the grill, saying, "You were born a cow, you were raised a cow, but now you are a fish."
Most visited Catholic Websites: http://www.catholicchurch.org/cid/top40.html
General Catholic Resources: http://www.everythingcatholic.com/1024/default.asp
http://www.lentreflections.com/five-simple-ways-to-deepen-your-prayer-life/ (Lenten reflections by Fr. Robert Barron- text & video)
“Scriptural Homilies”Cycle A(No.19)by Fr. Tony:email@example.com
Visit our website:http://stjohngrandbay.org/for previous Cycle A & C homilies, 56Year of Faith “Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 188 “Question of the Week.” Contact me using my IDakadavil@gmail.com. For the Vatican version of this homilycopy & paste on Google Search http://en.radiovaticana.va >> Features >> Asia Liturgical Reflectionsand click Enter button.Fr. Anthony. Kadavil,St. John the Baptist Church, P. O. Box 417, Grand Bay,Al, 36541
Prayers requested: March 13th 2017 is the 50th anniversary of my priestly Ordination and First Mass. Please remember me in your Holy Mass on March 12th Sunday when I will be concelebrating the Golden jubilee Mass with my archbishop, priest friends and St. John the Baptist parish community in Grand Bay, Alabama. Thank you for your prayers. Fr. Tony
Introduction: The common theme of today’s readings is metamorphosis or transformation. The readings invite us to work with the assistance of the Holy Spirit to transform our lives by renewing them during Lent, and to radiate the glory and grace of the transfigured Lord which we have received to all around us by our Spirit-filled lives.
Scripture lessons: The first reading describes the transformation of a pagan patriarch into a believer in the one God. His name will be transformed from Abram to Abraham and his small family into a great nation. All Abram has to do is to obey the Lord God’s command, and he does so. The second reading, taken from St. Paul’s second letter to Timothy, explains the type of Lenten transformation expected of us. We are transformed when we recognize the hand of a loving, providing and disciplining God behind all our hardships, pain and suffering and try our best to grow in holiness by cooperating with the grace of God given to us through Jesus and his Gospel. In the Transfiguration story in today’s Gospel, Jesus is revealed as a glorious figure, superior to Moses and Elijah. The primary purpose of Jesus’ Transfiguration was to allow Him to consult His Heavenly Father in order to ascertain His plan for His Son’s suffering, death and Resurrection. The secondary aim was to make his chosen disciples aware of His Divine glory, so that they might discard their worldly ambitions and dreams of a conquering political Messiah and might be strengthened in their time of trial. On the mountain, Jesus is identified by the Heavenly Voice as the Son of God. Thus, the transfiguration narrative is a Christophany, that is, a manifestation or revelation of Who Jesus really is. Describing Jesus’ Transfiguration, the Gospel gives us a glimpse of the Heavenly glory awaiting those who do God’s will by putting their trusting Faith in Him.
Life messages: (1) The Transubstantiation in the Holy Mass is the source of our strength. In each Holy Mass our offering of bread and wine becomes the Body and Blood of Jesus under the appearances of bread and wine. Hence, just as the Transfiguration of Jesus strengthened the Apostles in their time of trial, each Holy Mass should be our source of Heavenly strength against our own temptations and a source for the renewal of our lives during Lent. In addition, communion with Jesus in prayer and especially in the Eucharist should be a source of daily transformation of both our minds and hearts, enabling us to see Jesus in every one of our brothers and sisters with whom we come in contact each day. (2) Each Sacrament that we receive transforms us. Baptism, for example, transforms us into sons and daughters of God and heirs of heaven. Confirmation makes us the temples of the Holy Spirit. By the Sacrament of Reconciliation, God brings back the sinner to the path of holiness. By receiving in Faith the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, we are spiritually, and sometimes physically, healed, and our sins are forgiven.
(3) A message of hope and encouragement. In moments of doubt, pain and suffering, disappointment and despair, we need mountain-top experiences to reach out to God and listen to His consoling words: “This is my beloved son/daughter in whom I am well pleased.”
LENT II [A] Sunday (3/12/2017): Gen 12:1-4a; II Tim 1:8b-10; Mt 17:1-9
Anecdote: # 1: “O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.” There is a mysterious story in 2 Kings that can help us understand what is happening in the Transfiguration. Israel is at war with Aram, and Elisha, the man of God, is using his prophetic powers to reveal the strategic plans of the Aramean army to the Israelites. At first the King of Aram thinks that one of his officers is playing the spy, but when he learns the truth he dispatches troops to go and capture Elisha who is residing in Dothan. The Aramean troops move in under cover of darkness and surround the city. In the morning Elisha’s servant is the first to discover that they are surrounded and fears for his master’s safety. He runs to Elisha and says, “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” The prophet answers “Don't be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” But who would believe that when the surrounding mountainside is covered with advancing enemy troops? So Elisha prays, “O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the Lord opens the servant's eyes, and he looks and sees the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha (2 Kings 6:8-23). This vision was all that Elisha’s disciple needed to reassure him. At the end of the story, not only was the prophet of God safe, but the invading army was totally humiliated. (Fr. Munacci)
# 2: “Lord, give me the grace for transformation.” The word transfiguration means a change in form or appearance. Biologists call it metamorphosis (derived from the Greek word metamorphoomai used in Matthew’s Gospel), to describe the change that occurs when a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. As children we might have curiously watched the process of the caterpillar turning into a chrysalis and then bursting into a beautiful Monarch butterfly. Fr. Anthony De Mello tells the story of such a metamorphosis in the prayer life of an old man. “I was a revolutionary when I was young, and all my prayer to God was: ‘Lord, give me the grace to change the world.’ As I approached middle age and realized that half of my life was gone without changing a single soul, I changed my prayer to: ‘Lord, give me the grace to change all those who come in contact with me; just my family and friends and I shall be satisfied.’ Now that I am old and my days are numbered, I have begun to see how foolish I have been. My one prayer now is: ’Lord, give me the grace to change myself.’ If I had prayed for this right from the start, I should not have wasted my life.”
# 3: Baby powder and Christian transformation: You might remember comedian Yakov Smirnoff. When he first came to the United States from Russia he was not prepared for the incredible variety of instant products available in American grocery stores. He says, "On my first shopping trip, I saw powdered milk; you just add water, and you get milk. Then I saw powdered orange juice; you just add water, and you get orange juice. And then I saw baby powder, and I thought to my self, ‘What a country!’" Smirnoff was joking, but we make these assumptions about Christian Transformation—that people change instantly from sinners to saints. Catholics call it transformation through repentance and renewal of life, deriving strength through the word of God and the Sacraments to cooperate with God’s grace for doing acts of charity. Some other Christian denominations call it Sanctification of the believer. Whatever you call it, most denominations expect some quick fix for sin. According to this belief, when someone gives his or her life to Christ, accepting Him as Lord and personal Savior, and confesses his or her sins to Him, there an immediate, substantive, in-depth, miraculous change in habits, attitudes, and character. Can we go to Church as if we are going to the grocery store to get Powdered Christian? The truth is that Disciples of Christ are not born by adding water to Christian powder. There is no such powder, and disciples of Jesus Christ are not instantly born. They are slowly raised through many trials, suffering, and temptations and by their active cooperation with the grace of God, expressed through works of charity. (Adapted from James Emery White, Rethinking the Church, by Baker).
Introduction: The common theme of today’s readings is metamorphosis or transformation. The readings invite us to work with the Holy Spirit to transform our lives by renewing them during Lent, and to radiate the grace of the transfigured Lord around us by our Spirit-filled lives. The Transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain reminds us that the way of the cross leads to Resurrection and eternal life and that the purpose of Lent is to help us better to enter into those mysteries. Both the first and second readings present salvation history as a response to God’s call, a call going out to a series of key persons beginning with Abraham and culminating with Jesus Christ and His Apostles. Faith is presented here as the obedient response to the call of God which opens up channels for the redemptive action of God in history, thus transforming the world. In answering this call, both Abram and Saul broke with the experiences of their past lives and moved into an unmapped future to become new “people of the Promise,” for a new life. The first reading presents the change or transformation of the patriarch Abram from a pagan tribesman into a man of Faith in one God and the father of God’s chosen people, Israel, and somewhat later the transformation of his name from Abram to Abraham. The second reading, taken from St. Paul’s second letter to Timothy, explains the type of Lenten life-transformation expected of us. Today’s Gospel describes Jesus’ Transfiguration during prayer on a mountain.
First reading: Genesis 12:1-4: The reading from Genesis explains how blind obedience to God transforms the childless and pagan Abram into a believer in the one true God, and, later in his story, from Abram into the Abraham who became the prototype of trusting Faith and the father of God’s Chosen People. Blind obedience to God at His command transformed childless Abram into the Patriarch Abraham, a believer in the one God. Today’s passage is really the first encounter between Abram and God. Abram was prosperous in land and livestock, but he had no children, and that, to people of his time, was the most serious of all possible deprivations. So God challenged him with an offer: "I will make of you a great nation." But God's requirements were absolute: "Go forth from the land of your kin." The requirements were to become even more absolute when, after Abraham finally had a son, God asked him to sacrifice that same son (Genesis 22:1-18). God asks us, too, to leave our old life of sin behind, to go forth with Him into a period of repentance, renewal of life and transformation and to surrender to Him the whole of our being in loving surrender forever.
The second reading: II Timothy 1:8-10: St. Paul’s letter to Timothy explains the type of Lenten life-transformation expected of us. We should be ready to bear hardship for the Gospel and be thankful to God for our call to holiness, not trusting in our own merits but in grace. “Bear your share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God.” This passage has the following Lenten themes: a) bearing hardship for the sake of the Gospel; b) understanding that we are called not because of our own good works, but by undeserved grace; c) allowing God to make our belief that we were drawn into Jesus from before time began the central reality in our daily living; and d) facing death but hoping for immortality, a share in the Resurrection. The phrase "manifest through the appearance of our Savior" may be a reference to today's Gospel story of Jesus' Transfiguration, traditionally read on the second Sunday of Lent.
Exegesis: The objective and time of the Transfiguration: The primary purpose of Jesus’ Transfiguration was to consult his Heavenly Father in order to ascertain His plan for Our Lord’s suffering, death and Resurrection. The secondary aim was to make his chosen disciples aware of His Divine glory, so that they might discard their worldly ambitions about a conquering political Messiah. A third purpose was to strengthen their Faith and hope and to encourage them to persevere through the future ordeal. The Transfiguration took place in late summer, probably in AD 29, just prior to the Feast of Tabernacles. Hence, the Orthodox tradition celebrates the Transfiguration at about the time of the year when it actually occurred in order to connect it with the Old Testament Feast of Tabernacles. Western tradition celebrates the Transfiguration twice, first at the beginning of Lent with the Gospel account and second on August 6 with a full feast day liturgy.
The location of the Transfiguration was probably Mount Hermon in North Galilee, near Caesarea Philippi, where Jesus had camped for a week before the Transfiguration. The 9200-foot mountain was desolate. The traditional oriental belief that the transfiguration took place on Mount Tabor is based on Psalm 89:12. But Mount Tabor is a hill in the south of Galilee, less than 1000 feet high with a Roman fort on top of it, an unlikely place for solitude and prayer.
The scene of Heavenly glory: The disciples received a preview of the glorious figure Jesus would become at Easter and beyond. While praying, Jesus was transfigured into a shining figure, full of Heavenly glory. This reminds us of Moses and Elijah who also experienced the Lord in all His glory. Moses had met the Lord in the burning bush at Mount Horeb (Exodus 3:1-4). After his later encounter with God, Moses' face shone so brightly that it frightened the people, and Moses had to wear a veil over his face (Exodus 34:29-35). The luminosity of the face of Moses is also meant to signal the invasion of God. The Jews believed that Moses was taken up in a cloud at end of his earthly life (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 4. 326). Elijah had traveled for forty days to Mt. Horeb on the strength of the food brought by an angel (1 Kings 19:8). At Mt. Horeb, Elijah sought refuge in a cave as the glory of the Lord passed over him (1 Kings 19:9-18). Finally, Elijah was taken directly to Heaven in a chariot of fire without experiencing death (2 Kings 2:11-15). In addition, “Moses led his people out of slavery in Egypt, received the Torah on Mount Sinai and brought God’s people to the edge of the Promised Land. Elijah, the great prophet in northern Israel during the ninth century B.C., performed healings and other miracles and stood up to Israel’s external enemies and the wicked within Israel. Their presence in Matthew’s transfiguration account emphasizes Jesus’ continuity with the Law (Moses) and the prophets (Elijah) in salvation history.”(Fr. Harrington S. J.)
These representatives of the Law and the Prophets, foreshadowed Jesus who is the culmination of the Law and the Prophets. Both prophets were initially rejected by the people but were vindicated by God. The Jews believed that these men did not die because God Himself took Moses (Dt 34:5-6), and Elijah was carried to heaven in a whirlwind (II Kgs 2:11). So the implication is that although God spared Moses and Elijah from the normal process of death, He did not spare His Son.
God the Father’s Voice from the Cloud: The book of Exodus describes how God spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai from the Cloud. God often made appearances in a cloud (Ex 24:15-17; 13:21-22; 34:5; 40:34; 1 Kgs 8:10-11). I Kgs 8:10 tells us how, by the cover of a cloud, God revealed His presence in the Ark of the Covenant and in the Temple of Jerusalem on the day of its dedication. The Jews generally believed that the phenomenon of the Cloud would be repeated when the Messiah arrived. God the Father, Moses and Elijah approved the plan regarding Jesus' suffering, death and Resurrection. God’s words from the Cloud: “This is my Son, the Beloved; with Him I am well pleased; listen to Him,” are the same words used by God at Jesus' baptism (3:17). They summarize the meaning of the Transfiguration: on this mountain, God reveals Jesus as His Son -- His beloved -- the One in Whom He is well pleased and to Whom we must listen.
Life messages: (1) The Transubstantiation in the Holy Mass is the source of our strength. In each Holy Mass our offering of bread and wine becomes the Body and Blood of Jesus under the appearances of bread and wine. Hence, just as Jesus’ Transfiguration strengthened the Apostles in their time of trial, each Holy Mass should be our source of Heavenly strength against our own temptations and our source for the renewal of our lives during Lent. In addition, communion with Jesus in prayer and in the Eucharist should be a source of daily transformation of both our minds and hearts. We must also be transformed by becoming more humble and selfless, sharing love, compassion and forgiveness with others. But in our everyday lives, we often fail to recognize Jesus when he appears to us “transfigured,” hidden in someone who is in some kind of need. Jesus will be happy when we attend to the needs of that person. With the eyes of Faith, we must see Jesus in every one of our brothers and sisters, the children of God we come across each day and, by His grace, respond to Him with love and service.
(2) Each Sacrament that we receive transforms us. Baptism, for example, transforms us into sons and daughters of God and heirs of heaven. Confirmation makes us the temples of the Holy Spirit. By the Sacrament of Reconciliation, God brings back the sinner to the path of holiness. By receiving in Faith the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, we are spiritually, and if God wills physically, healed and our sins are forgiven.
(3) A message of hope and encouragement. In moments of doubt and during feelings of despair, the expectation of our transformation in Heaven helps us to reach out to God and listen to His consoling words: “This is my beloved son/daughter in whom I am well pleased.”
(4) We need these 'mountain-top’ experiences in our own lives. We can share experiences like those of Peter, James and John when we spend some extra time in prayer during Lent. Perhaps we may want to fast for one day, taking only water, thus releasing spiritual energy, which in turn, can lift our thoughts to a higher plane. Such a fast may also help us to remember the starving millions in the world, and make us more willing to help them.
JOKE OF THE WEEK: 1) Lenten penance: There is a story of a father trying to explain Lent to his ten-year-old son. At one point, the father said, "You ought to give up something for Lent, something you will really miss, like candy." The boy thought for a moment, then asked, "What are you giving up, Father?" "I'm giving up liquor," the father replied. "But before dinner you were drinking something," the boy protested. "Yes, but that was only sherry," said the father. "I gave up hard liquor." To which the boy replied, "Well then, I think I'll give up hard candy."
2) “I have decided to give up drinking for Lent:” An Irishman moves into a tiny hamlet in County Kerry, walks into the pub and promptly orders three beers. The bartender raises his eyebrows, but serves the man three beers, which he drinks quietly at a table, alone and orders three more. As this continued every day the bartender asked him politely, “The folks around here are wondering why you always order three beers?" "It’s odd, isn't it?" the man replies, "You see, I have two brothers, and one went to America, and the other to Australia. We promised each other that we would always order an extra two beers whenever we drank." Then, one day, the man comes in and orders only two beers. As this continued for several days, the bartender approached him with tears in his eyes and said, "Folks around here, me first of all, want to offer condolences to you for the death of your brother. You know-the two beers and all..." The man ponders this for a moment and then replies with a broad smile, "You'll be happy to know that my two brothers are alive and well. It’s just that I, myself, have decided to give up drinking for Lent."
3) A certain missionary on a study trip to the Holy Land was visiting Jaffa (Joppa) where Peter was residing when he baptized Cornelius (Acts 10). The breath-taking beauty of this small seaside town was such that it inspired the missionary to come up with this joke: At the Transfiguration Peter offered to build three tents, one for Jesus, one for Moses and one for Elijah. Jesus said, “And what about you, Peter?” And Peter replies, “Don’t worry about me Lord, I got a better place in Jaffa.”
USEFUL WEBSITES OF THE WEEK
5) Put Catholic Bible at your fingertips (on your Desk Top) chapters & verses: Procedure: USCCB Catholic Bible on the desktop. 1) Open the website http://www.usccb.org/bible/books-of-the-bible/index.cfm 1) Click on File 2) Save as 3) Desktop
Videos of the week:
Episcopalian virtual video on Ash Wednesday: https://youtu.be/WIEf9G2Wmho
Fr. Barron’s Ash Wednesday reflections: https://youtu.be/hPTcMWpHfKk
Lenten reflections: 1) https://youtu.be/MOstFC5QZyc 2) https://youtu.be/AHzG3ocLaj4
19- Additional anecdotes 1) "You don't really know how it works, do you, Mom?" A little boy asked his mother, "Marriage makes you have babies, doesn't it, Mom?" The mother reluctantly answered her son, "Well, not exactly. Just because you are married does not mean that you have a baby." The boy continued his inquiry: "Then how do you have babies?" His mother, not very enthusiastic about continuing, answered, "It's kind of hard to explain." The boy paused and thought for a moment. He then moved closer to Mom, looked her right in eye, and carefully said, "You don't really know how it works, do you, Mom?" Believe it our not, today’s Gospel passage on theophany on a mountain is one of those "What does that mean, and how am I supposed to explain that?" sort of passages. It's difficult because, as the little boy told his mother, we "don't really know how it works." And when you don't know how something works, it's hard to explain.
2) Missing the point: Once upon a time, a man took his new hunting dog on a trial hunt. After a while, he managed to shoot a duck and it fell into the lake. The dog walked on the water, picked up the duck and brought it to his master. The man was stunned. He didn’t know what to think. He shot another duck and again it fell into the lake and, again, the dog walked on the water and brought it back to him. What a fantastic dog – he can walk on water and get nothing but his paws wet. The next day he asked his neighbor to go hunting with him so that he could show off his hunting dog, but he didn’t tell his neighbor anything about the dog’s ability to walk on water. As on the previous day, he shot a duck and it fell into the lake. The dog walked on the water and got it. His neighbor didn’t say a word. Several more ducks were shot that day and each time the dog walked over the water to retrieve them and each time the neighbor said nothing and neither did the owner of the dog. Finally, unable to contain himself any longer, the owner asked his neighbor, "Have you noticed anything strange, anything different about my dog?" "Yes," replied the neighbor, “Your dog doesn’t know how to swim." The neighbor missed the point completely. He couldn’t see the wonder of a dog that could walk on water; he could only see that the dog didn’t do what other hunting dogs do to retrieve ducks – that is to swim. The disciple, Peter, was good at missing the point at the theophany of Transfiguration as is clear from his declaration: “I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
3) Edmund Hillary’s mountain-top experience on Mount Everest. The seniors among us certainly recall that amazing story 64 years ago, May 29, 1953. A New Zealand beekeeper named Edmund Hillary and a Sherpa guide, Tenzing Norgay, were the first ever to reach Everest's summit. Here was a mountain - unreachable, tantalizing, fearsome, deadly - that had defeated 15 previous expeditions. Some of the planet's strongest climbers had perished on its slopes. For many, Everest represented the last of the earth's great challenges. The North Pole had been reached in 1909; the South Pole in 1911. But Everest, often called the Third Pole, had defied all human efforts - reaching its summit seemed beyond mere mortals. Now success! And heightening the impact even further was the delicious coincidence of their arrival just before the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and the dramatic announcement of their triumph on the morning of the coronation. It was literally a "mountaintop experience." The mountaintop experience of which we read in today’s Gospel a moment ago has Jesus and His three closest Apostles - Peter, James, and John - going up on a high mountain and the miraculous Transfiguration undergone by Jesus making His Heavenly glory visible to His disciples.
4) “I just want you to know that I love you.” Did you hear the story about an inattentive, workaholic husband who suddenly decided to surprise his wife with a night to remember? He went down to the department store and bought her the expensive dress she had been admiring. He bought her a large bottle of perfume to go with it. He ordered tickets to the Broadway play she had been wanting to see and made reservations at their favorite restaurant. On his way home he stopped by the florist and bought two dozen red roses which he carried home under his arm. Upon arriving home, he exploded through the door, hugged his wife affectionately and told her what he had done. “I just want you to know that I love you; I appreciate you; I adore you.” Instead of melting in the man’s arms his wife started screaming at the top of her voice. “This has been the worst day of my life,” she said. “It was awful at the office. We lost our biggest account; co-workers were obnoxious; clients were unreasonable. I came home to find the kids had broken my favorite lamp; the baby sitter is quitting; and the water heater is out; and now surprise of surprises, my normally sober husband comes home drunk!” When today’s Gospel starts talking about a Transfiguration with radiant faces and glowing garments and visitors from the dead, we become more than a little suspicious. What is going on here? All along the question remains: Are we willing to let ourselves be engulfed in mystery, inspired by glory, transformed by encounters of a Divine kind? That’s what the Transfiguration of Jesus is all about.
5) The new prioress is turning monastic life into "one big party." A most unusual protest took place in a convent in New Jersey. Four nuns locked themselves in a tiny second floor infirmary and took a vow of "near silence." They were protesting new rules established by their new prioress, Mother Theresa Hewitt. It seems that Mother Theresa had introduced television, secular videos, recorded music, bright lights, and (horror of horrors) daily "sweets" into the convent. The sweets consisted of a tin of candy which was passed around each day and each nun was supposed to indulge. In the words of one of the protesting nuns (who were among the younger nuns in the order, by the way) the new prioress was turning monastic life into "one big party." In order to express their revulsion at these ungodly changes, the four sisters locked themselves away. We can sympathize. There is much in our brave new world from which I would like to withdraw. I can sympathize with Simon Peter who wanted to build three booths and stay on the mountaintop of the Transfiguration in the presence of Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. Unfortunately he was not given that option, and neither are we. We must live in this world of strident, discordant noise. There is no retreat.
6) Movie preview: You go into the movie theatre, find a seat that's suitable. You find a place for your coat, sit down, and get ready to watch the movie. The house lights dim; the speakers crackle as the dust and scratches on the soundtrack are translated into static, and an image appears on the screen. It is not the film you came to see. It is the preview of coming attractions, a brief glimpse of the highlights of a film opening soon. The moviemakers and theater owners hope the preview will pique your interest enough to make you want to come back and see the whole film. On the Mount of the Transfiguration, Peter, James and John, the inner circle of Jesus' disciples, were given a preview of coming attractions. Today’s Gospel gives us a splendid preview of Jesus radiant in Divine glory, his mortal nature brilliantly, though only momentarily, transfigured; a dazzling preview of His Divinity, unalloyed and perfectly pure, shining in glory like the very sun. A sneak preview, in other words, of Easter and of His final coming in Glory to take us Home, the triumphant climax of the epic love story between God and humanity.
7) “I had an hour of glory on a windswept hill.” Dr. William Stidger once told of a lovely little 90-year-old lady named Mrs. Sampson. Mrs. Sampson was frail, feeble, even sickly. But Dr. Stidger said that when he was discouraged he always went to visit Mrs. Sampson. She had a radiant spirit that was contagious. One day he asked this 90-year-young woman, “What is the secret of your power? What keeps you happy, contented and cheerful through your sickness?” She answered with a line from a poem, “I had an hour of glory on a windswept hill.” Bill Stidger said, recounting this experience, “I knew she had been in touch with God and that was the whole reason for her cheerfulness.” Listen again to her words: “an hour of glory on a windswept hill.” It sounds very much like the experience Peter, James and John had on the Mount of Transfiguration.
8) “What did you do with the ship?" A brilliant magician was performing on an ocean liner. But every time he did a trick, the Captain's parrot would yell, "It's a trick. He's a phony. That's not magic." Then one evening during a storm, the ship sank while the magician was performing. The parrot and the magician ended up in the same lifeboat. For several days they just glared at each other, neither saying a word to the other. Finally the parrot said, "OK, I give up. What did you do with the ship?" The parrot couldn't explain that last trick! It was too much to comprehend, even for a smart parrot. Peter was like that parrot after witnessing the Transfiguration scene. He said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three tents-one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."
9) The Mountain Top. John A. Redhead, Jr. tells of a father and son who have a really good relationship. Among their many good times together, one stood out above all the rest: It was a hike up a particular mountain where they seemed to reach the height of a beautiful friendship. After they returned home, there came a day when things did not seem to run as smoothly. The father rebuked the son, and the son spoke sharply in return. An hour later, the air had cleared. “Dad,” said the son, “whenever it starts to get like that again, let’s one of us say ‘The Mountain Top.’” So it was agreed. In a few weeks another misunderstanding occurred. The boy was sent to his room in tears. After a while, the father decided to go up and see the boy. He was still angry until he saw a piece of paper pinned to the door. The boy had penciled three words in large letters: “The Mountain Top.” That symbol was powerful enough to restore the relationship of father and son. (Harry Emerson Fosdick, Riverside Sermons (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1958).) Come with me to the mountain. It is there that relationships can be made right. Come with me to the mountain. See who Jesus is. See what, by his grace, you and I can yet become.
10) The Church of Transfiguration: The traditional site for the Transfiguration is Mount Tabor, a high mountain in the north country of Israel. Over the years, the Church has gone where Peter could not go, and we have built what he could not build. Helena, mother of Constantine, built a sanctuary in the top of Mount Tabor in 326 A.D. By the end of the sixth century, three churches stood on the mountaintop, one each for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. More shrines were built there over the next 400 years, and Saladin destroyed them all in 1187. A fortress built in 1212 was destroyed by the end of the thirteenth century. The summit was abandoned for another six hundred years, until a Greek Orthodox community built a monastery there. Some time later, the Franciscans built a Latin basilica on the highest point of the summit, where they now maintain worship services and a website. The site can be reached at http://www.christusrex.org/www1/ofm/san/tab00mn/html)
11) "Then you can imagine how humble and awkward I feel in yours." Winston Churchill knew the difference between celebrities and heroes. In the summer of 1941, Sergeant James Allen Ward was awarded the Victoria Cross for climbing out onto the wing of his Wellington bomber at 13,000 feet above ground to extinguish a fire in the starboard engine. Secured only by a rope around his waist, he managed to smother the fire and return along the wing to the aircraft's cabin. Churchill, an admirer as well as a performer of swashbuckling exploits, summoned the shy New Zealander to 10 Downing Street. Ward, struck dumb with awe in Churchill's presence, was unable to answer the Prime Minister's questions. Churchill surveyed the unhappy hero with some compassion. "You must feel very humble and awkward in my presence," he said, "Yes, Sir," managed Ward. "Then you can imagine how humble and awkward I feel in yours," returned Churchill. [Max Anders, Jesus (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995), p. 24.] Churchill knew he was in the presence of a real hero. So did the disciples. In fact, they knew they were in the presence of Someone whose significance went beyond celebrity, even beyond heroic. He was their Lord, their Master, their King. If we are wise, he will be our Lord, our Master, our King. If we are wise, Christ will be our Hero, too.
12) "Let me build three booths here" Do you remember how President Reagan insisted he had done the right thing after he visited the cemetery in Bitburg, West Germany, despite the fact that it contained the bodies of at least twenty-nine Nazi SS soldiers, and later, as if to offset the visit to Bitburg, made a pilgrimage to one of the concentration camps? His argument, supporting his contention that he had done a good deed, was based on what he learned about the manner in which the German people actually make pilgrimages to some of the death camps to keep alive the terrible memory in adults and make children realize how awful those camps were. Graphic and gruesome photographs and news stories of the atrocities, uncovered after the Allies liberated them, are posted in prominent places so no one will ever forget. "Let me build three booths here" was Peter's way of marking the spot of Jesus' Transfiguration so no one would ever forget.
13) The shepherd's pipe once played by Moses: John Killinger tells the legend about "the simple shepherd's pipe once played by Moses when he kept his father-in-law's flocks. When the pipe was discovered, many years after Moses' death, it was decided that it should be put on display for the benefit of his admirers. But it looked far too common for such an important purpose, so someone suggested that it be embellished by an artist. A few centuries later, when the pipe was given a new home in an upscale museum, a committee said it needed improving yet again. So another artist was employed to overlay it in fine gold and silver filigree. The result, in the end, was a breathtaking piece of art, a marvelous sight indeed. It was so beautiful, in fact, that no one ever noticed that it was no longer capable of the clear, seductive notes once played upon it by Moses." [God, the Devil, and Harry Potter (New York: Thomas Dunne, 2002), 162-3]. How do we tell what voices to listen to, whose advice to take, what directives are important, and what we should just let fall on deaf ears? In today's Gospel text, the Divine Voice from the enshrouding Cloud offered Peter, James, and John simple, straightforward words: "This is my Beloved Son, listen to him."
14) Into Thin Air: A few years ago a book was published that described a different kind of mountaintop experience. It was Jon Krakauer’s book Into Thin Air. It was his description of a disastrous expedition in which he took part – a climb up Mount Everest. Mount Everest is the highest point on earth, rising 29,029 feet above sea level. Hundreds of people have died trying to scale its slopes. On May 10, 1996, climbers from three different expeditions attempting to reach the summit of Everest found themselves in a traffic jam as they approached the final ascent. An unexpected storm suddenly came up, claiming the lives of eight of the climbers. Jon Krakauer was in one of those three groups. The title of his book, Into Thin Air, comes partially from an experience he had on top of the mountain. As he was beginning his slow descent back down the mountain, Krakauer became concerned about his oxygen supply. He was going to stop and rest for a few moments while he waited on others who were still making it to the top. So he asked Andy Harris, a guide with another team with whom he had become close friends, to turn down his oxygen supply, so as to conserve it for the trip back. Harris turned the knob on the back of his pack, and Krakauer sat, to wait for the rest of his team. There atop Everest, Krakauer says he had this moment of absolute clarity as he gazed out over the craggy peaks of the Himalayan Mountains. After a difficult journey up, he felt in control for the first time on the trip. And then . . . his oxygen ran out. You see, his friend Andy Harris had turned the knob in the wrong direction: he hadn’t turned it down, he’d turned it up. The moment of absolute clarity that Krakauer experienced was the result of an oversupply of oxygen‑rich air. His feeling of control was an illusion. [Jon Krakauer, Into Thin Air (Villard Books, 1997)]. That moment of terror for Jon Krakauer is comparable to what Peter, James and John felt as the mountain on which they stood suddenly became enveloped by a Cloud, and they heard a Voice from that Cloud. They were terrified. Jesus said to them, as he often had to say to them, “Don’t be afraid.”
15) “I just want to hold on to the ball as long as I can.” Some of you baseball fans remember former major league catcher and TV personality Joe Garagiola. Garagiola is a great story-teller. He tells a story about baseball legend Stan Musial. Musial came to the plate in a critical game. The opposing pitcher in the game was young and nervous. Garagiola was catching, and he called for a fastball to be pitched to Musial. The pitcher shook his head. He didn’t want to throw that pitch. Joe signaled for a curve, and again the pitcher shook him off. Then he signaled for a change-up. Still the pitcher hesitated. Garagiola went out to the mound to talk to his young pitcher. He said, “I’ve called for every pitch in the book; what do you want to throw?” “Nothing,” was the pitcher’s reply. “I just want to hold on to the ball as long as I can.” Well, who can blame him? Musial was a legendary hitter. And that’s the way many of us are living -- holding on as long as we can to our grudges, holding onto our resentments, holding onto our fears. Why? Because we’re afraid to let go. Listen, friend. Jesus is here today, and he is saying to you, “Don’t be afraid.” Don’t be afraid. Listen to his voice. This day can mean the beginning of a new you.
16) Metamorphosis of a Grub into a Dragonfly: At the bottom of a pond some little grub worms (larvae of dragonflies) are crawling around in the mud. They wonder what happens to their members who climb up the stem of the water lily and never come back. They agree among themselves that the next one who is called to the surface will come back and tell them what happened. The next grub worm (nymph) that finds itself drawn to the surface by nature, crawls out on a lily leaf and emerges from its last molting skin as a beautiful adult dragonfly. It has been dark and murky down below, but the dragonfly sees that everything is bright and sunny in the upper world. Suddenly something begins to happen. The transformed grub spreads out two huge beautiful colored wings and flies back and forth across the pond to convey the glad tiding of its transfiguration to its friends. It can see the other grubs in the pond below, but they can’t see him. He also realizes that he cannot dive into the pond to convey the glad tidings of his great transformation. This metamorphosis is nothing in comparison to the glorious transformation awaiting us after our death.
17) The Transfiguration: Rabbi Abraham Twersky tells a story about his great-grandfather who was sitting with other rabbinical scholars studying the Talmud when it was decided to take a break for refreshments. One of the groups offered to pay for the refreshments, but there was no one who volunteered to go for them. According to Twersky, in his book Generation to Generation, his great-grandfather said, “Just hand me the money, I have a young boy who will be glad to go.” After a rather extended period, he finally returned with the refreshments, and it became obvious to all that the rabbi himself had gone and performed the errand. Noticing their discomfort, the rabbi explained: “I didn’t mislead you at all. You see, many people outgrow their youth and become old men. I have never let the spirit of my youth depart. And as I grew older, I always took along with me that young boy I had been. It was that young boy in me that did the errand. (Gerard Fuller in Stories for all Seasons)
18) Film: Phenomenon –Transforming Light: In the film, George Malley is a simple, pleasant, and popular man who lives in a small town where he fixes cars and experiments in growing vegetables in his garden. He turns 37 and after his birthday celebration, he is knocked unconscious by a bright light in the sky that falls towards him and explodes. When he comes to, he has been transformed. His I.Q has soared, and he develops telekinetic powers. He begins to speed-read and is able to translate for the local doctor when he is treating a non-English speaking patient. The townspeople are puzzled because George has always been so ordinary. A scientist interviews and tests him. George is apprehended by the FBI who are suspicious about his amazing knowledge and contacts. Meanwhile, his friends support him; so does Lace, a furniture maker with two small children whom George begins to court. Eventually his physical condition deteriorates and the FBI keeps him in custody in a hospital. He escapes and returns to Lace, and we discover the reasons for his extraordinary intelligence before he dies. Lace mourns for George. A year later the whole town and his friends gather to celebrate his birthday as his memory and spirit live on. (Peter Malone in ‘Lights, Camera… Faith!’) As we journey in life, may we be transformed by touches of His presence! (Fr. Botelho)
19) Finding God on the mountain? The 17th century English poet, John Donne, tells of a man searching for God. He is convinced that God lives on the top of a mountain at the end of the earth. After a journey of many days, the man arrives at the foot of the mountain and begins to climb it. At the same time God says to the angels: “What can I do to show my people how much I love them?” He decides to descend the mountain and live among the people as one of them. As the man is going up one side of the mountain, God is descending the other side. They don’t see each other because they are on opposite sides of the mountain. On reaching the summit, the man discovers an empty mountaintop. Heartbroken, the man concludes that God does not exist. Despite speculation to the contrary, God does not live on mountaintops, deserts, or at the end of the earth, or even in some Heaven, - God dwells among human beings and in the person of Jesus. – Staying on in the safety of the mountain is what Peter would prefer. During the Transfiguration, Peter and his companions got a glimpse of the future glory of Jesus’ Resurrection. They want nothing more. However, after they come down the mountain, they are told by Jesus that the glory they witnessed would be real only after he had gone through suffering and death. We too will share in his glory, only by sharing in his suffering and death. (Simon K. in The Sunday Liturgy; quoted by Fr. Botelho). L/17
“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle A (No. 18 by Fr. Tony: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit our website: http://stjohngrandbay.org/ for previous Cycle A & C homilies, 56 Year of Faith “Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 188 “Question of the Week.” Contact me using my ID email@example.com. For the Vatican version of this homily copy & paste on Google Search http://en.radiovaticana.va >> Features >> Asia Liturgical Reflections and click Enter button. Fr. Anthony. Kadavil, St. John the Baptist Church, P. O. Box 417, Grand Bay,Al, 36541