“Master, it is good that we are here.”  Words from our Gospel today from the 9th chapter of the Gospel according to St. Luke – sisters and brothers, may the Lord give to you his peace and his joy.

This has been a tough week for me.  Fr. Ryan, like clockwork, watches the news every day, and sitting down with him one evening to watch the coverage of the Ukranian refugees and the suffering of the people there was just heartbreaking.  And then on Saturday morning here, we buried one of our young parishioners who tragically died in a car crash, and with this of course is the immense grief and profound loss that is now being experienced throughout our community.  And all of this is on top of other difficult moments and personal and emotional exhaustion.  I imagine many of us are in the same boat or have found ourselves in desolation at some point or another in our lives.  All of us have crosses that we are carrying, and some have taken the opportunity to express these things prayerfully in our shadowbox-cross on display in the sanctuary.  Indeed, the season of Lent reminds us that we are heading towards Jerusalem and that we are heading towards Calvary with Jesus.  And this reality can overwhelm us and crush us.

Amid such things, Jesus takes the opportunity to go up Mount Tabor, the Mountain of Transfiguration with Peter James and John to remind them of the glory that is to come, the hope that we still have, to remind us of the good times and the highs even amid the lows of our lives and those desolate valley experiences. “It’s good that we are here,” they say, “It’s good that we are here.”  We all need moments like this, moments of transfiguration, to keep us going. 

When I was at the seminary, Msgr. Lee would always take the first ten minutes of his homiletics class to have us share our “God Moments” from the past week with the rest of the class.  God moments are those times when we have encountered the presence of God at work in the context of our lives.  I wanted to share with you today some of my God moments from the past week and from my priesthood with you here so far, and they say a picture’s worth a thousand words so here goes…  Here is a picture of our parish picnic for our patronal feast day for the assumption of Mary.  It was a wonderful day, with perfect weather, and a chance to really spend time with each other.  Here was a little fun I had with our Home School Association’s meat raffle.  If you thought I looked ridiculous, you should have seen Fr. Bryan dressed as a cow.  Here’s the first baptism we had here during Mass since Covid took everything away from us – when she cries during Mass, I know she’s praying along with the rest of us and that there’s life in our Church.  This is a nice picture here of our restored Chapel.  Coming into pray is like being transported into a different realm of beauty and peace.  We have great staff here and they treated me to a little birthday lunch at the rectory – Don’t worry, I made sure to blow out the candles in a Covid friendly way.  This is a picture of Holy Thursday last year.  It was one of the best Masses I’ve ever been privileged to celebrate, and through it all, I am still very happy to be washing your feet.  One of my God moments from this past week was the Rite of Election at the Cathedral this past Sunday with our catechumens and candidates.  In spite of all that is happening in the Church, they are consciously stepping forward to claim this faith as their own and are declaring before the world the Good News that is found here, and I am so proud of them.  I can’t wait to celebrate the Easter Sacraments with them on the night of the Vigil.  They fill me with hope.  Thanks for bearing with me as I shared some of these moments where I knew God’s grace was at work, and thankfully there are many more of such happy moments where I could say like the disciples, “Master, it is good that we are here.” 

We all go through ups and downs, through highs and lows as we make our way through life.  Whereas our Lenten journey last week took us through the desert wastelands of our lives and the many temptations that we face, today’s Gospel reinforces our need to have and hold onto those God moments and so we are brought up the mountain of transfiguration.  Indeed, from the mountain summit, we are provided with some of the most amazing sights and can see for many miles around.  There is nothing quite like being ‘on top of the world,’ which lends itself to a new perspective on our surrounding environment and on life.  We often refer to the highlights of our lives as mountaintop experiences.  It is no coincidence that, in the Scriptures, mountaintops were considered sacred places upon which God was to be encountered.  It was on the mountaintop that Peter, James, and John witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus, that is, they received a vision of Jesus not merely as a human being but as the divine Son of God present in their very midst.  They declared, “It is good that we are here.”  What a privilege it must have been to have the glory of God revealed right in front of their eyes!  Having received a glimpse of eternity, they wanted to dwell in that happy moment forever.  Those God moments, they’re for us too.

When Msgr. Lee asked us to share our God moments every week in class, I began to spend more time contemplating about how God was being transfigured before me and revealing his presence in my life.  At first, I admit I did this so that I would simply have something to share with the class, but as I spent more and more time reflecting upon my God moments from week to week, I realized that God was always at work, even amid life’s challenges, and not just in my life but in the lives of the people around me.  I have no doubt that God is working in the lives of each of us here, though many of us don’t recognize God’s presence, or after such awesome encounters remain silent about such things and don’t share what we’ve experienced.  Today gives us the opportunity to ask ourselves, “What are my God moments?”  Those moments when we can declare, “Lord, it is good that we are here.”  I would challenge us all to reflect more deeply upon our lives and recognize the moments that God makes himself known to us because he is being transfigured before us every day.  Hopefully, all of us will have the blessing of many mountaintop experiences during our lifetime where we recognize the presence of God as he is transfigured before us. 

And finally I would challenge us that when we recognize these moments, that we don’t remain silent about them, like Peter, James, and John.  Because with all that is going on in our lives and in our world, someone just might need to hear that message of hope that you can bring.  When you experience God’s grace, say to your friend, “hey, something wonderful happened to me the other day, and I want to share this God-given moment with you.”  When you go home after Mass, talk about your experience of the Eucharist in the car ride or when you go out for brunch or dinner at Zoe’s or Stockman’s and say “this is what Fr. Ryan or Fr. Luke or Deacon Rick talked about this weekend at Church, this is what I heard in the readings, this is how God spoke to me.”  Again, there are many transfiguration moments, God moments happening all around us to pull us out of those deep valleys.  Find them, hold on to them, and share them with others, so that it is not only Jesus who is transfigured but all of us along with him; that, amid all the ups and downs of life, we can say to the Lord with hope and joy, “Master, it is good that we are here.”

Reading I

Gn 15:5-12, 17-18

The Lord God took Abram outside and said,
“Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can.
Just so,” he added, “shall your descendants be.”
Abram put his faith in the LORD,
who credited it to him as an act of righteousness.

He then said to him,
“I am the LORD who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans
to give you this land as a possession.”
“O Lord GOD,” he asked,
“how am I to know that I shall possess it?”
He answered him,
“Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old she-goat,
a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”
Abram brought him all these, split them in two,
and placed each half opposite the other;
but the birds he did not cut up.
Birds of prey swooped down on the carcasses,
but Abram stayed with them.
As the sun was about to set, a trance fell upon Abram,
and a deep, terrifying darkness enveloped him.

When the sun had set and it was dark,
there appeared a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch,
which passed between those pieces.
It was on that occasion that the LORD made a covenant with Abram,
saying: “To your descendants I give this land,
from the Wadi of Egypt to the Great River, the Euphrates.”

Responsorial Psalm

Ps 27:1, 7-8, 8-9, 13-14.

  1. (1a)  The Lord is my light and my salvation.
    The LORD is my light and my salvation;
     whom should I fear?
    The LORD is my life’s refuge;
    of whom should I be afraid?
    R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
    Hear, O LORD, the sound of my call;
       have pity on me, and answer me.
    Of you my heart speaks; you my glance seeks.
    R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
    Your presence, O LORD, I seek.
       Hide not your face from me;
    do not in anger repel your servant.
       You are my helper: cast me not off.
    R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
    I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
       in the land of the living.
    Wait for the LORD with courage;
       be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.
    R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.

Reading II

Phil 3:17—4:1

Join with others in being imitators of me, brothers and sisters,
and observe those who thus conduct themselves
according to the model you have in us.
For many, as I have often told you
and now tell you even in tears,
conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ.
Their end is destruction.
Their God is their stomach;
their glory is in their “shame.”
Their minds are occupied with earthly things.
But our citizenship is in heaven,
and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
He will change our lowly body
to conform with his glorified body
by the power that enables him also
to bring all things into subjection to himself.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters,
whom I love and long for, my joy and crown,
in this way stand firm in the Lord.

or:

Phil 3:20—4:1

Brothers and sisters:
Our citizenship is in heaven,
and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
He will change our lowly body
to conform with his glorified body
by the power that enables him also
to bring all things into subjection to himself.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters,
whom I love and long for, my joy and crown,
in this way stand firm in the Lord, beloved.

Verse Before the Gospel

Cf. Mt 17:5

From the shining cloud the Father’s voice is heard:
This is my beloved Son, hear him.

Gospel

Lk 9:28b-36

Jesus took Peter, John, and James
and went up the mountain to pray.
While he was praying his face changed in appearance
and his clothing became dazzling white.
And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah,
who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus
that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.
Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep,
but becoming fully awake,
they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.
As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus,
“Master, it is good that we are here;
let us make three tents,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
But he did not know what he was saying.
While he was still speaking,
a cloud came and cast a shadow over them,
and they became frightened when they entered the cloud.
Then from the cloud came a voice that said,
“This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”
After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone.
They fell silent and did not at that time
tell anyone what they had seen.