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August 6, 2017 - Awesome Yet Ordinary

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord

Scripture Readings

Whenever I read passages like the ones we have as our readings today, I feel a little disconnected. I am not saying that I have any doubts about the marvelous experiences of Daniel in today’s first reading or the apostles in today's second reading and the gospel. All I am saying is that I haven’t had them. I am not sure about you, but, I am left with a piece of bread and some wine in my hands. It takes everything in me to believe that the God who appeared to Daniel and the apostles is the same God I hold in my hands. I lay my hand on people who are ill, anoint them with Holy Oil and believe that God is hearing my prayer. All I have is the quiet time I spend before God in prayer. Sometimes, it takes everything in my to believe that there is somebody on the other side. 

Each of the three readings today, describe an awesome revelation of God. For those of us who do not have experiences of such magnitude, what are these readings saying to us? What do they mean for us? Let is share my reflection in three points. 

  1. Standing in Awe! Last week in the homily at one of the weekday masses, I came up with this statement. I said, “Sometimes… just sometimes, stop focusing on trying to be a good guy.” I was not saying the opposite. I was not saying that we should try to be the bad guy! No! I was not even saying that we should not focus on ourselves.  After all, the person that each one of us is, is God’s creation. Rather, I was saying, even when we are trying the do the right thing, it all about us. The point I was trying emphasize  our need to simply stand in awe in God’s presence. I was trying to emphasize the importance of allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed by God’s  awesomeness. Like Daniel, like the apostles on the mountain of transfiguration, sometimes… just sometimes, we have to learn to set aside our sins, set aside trying to be good, set aside trying to make it to heaven, set aside trying to say prayers, set aside our prayers and petitions. This week, at least once, for about five minutes, try simply “being” in God’s awesome presence. You will find this very liberating.  
  1. “Rise, Do Not Be Afraid.” In the past few weeks, I have been in conversation with people who were struggling - parents who have had a miscarriage, families that have dealt with not one but two suicides, young people dealing with abuse at home, a family staring at a break up, parishioners dealing with terminal cancer. It is harder to find God in the midst of these situation. Sometimes, we are not on the top of a mountain; sometimes we are floundering in the deepest and darkest valley. When the disciples had witnessed the transfiguration and , Jesus came to them and said, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” And then they went down the mountain. The fact that Jesus walked down the mountain with the apostles, is a powerful symbol of God’s presence in our lives. As awesome as God is, God is in our midst constantly assuring us, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” And even when death stares us in our face, we do not have to be afraid. It is then then we are invited to share fully in the awesomeness of God. 
  1. God in the Ordinariness of Life. God can reveal God’s self to us in whatever way God chooses.Thank God for the mountain top experiences. But if scripture and Catholicism teaches us anything, it is that God is present in the most ordinary way. The most awesome God comes to us in humble bread and simple wine. Perhaps the greater task at hand is the be aware of God’s presence in the ordinary. Where is God in the midst of the nine-to-five job? Where is God when the daily chores of home takes the life out of us? Where is God during workouts or taking the dog out for a walk? Where is God in the midst of the family cook out? Where is God during the game? Where is God during the family vacation? Let me bring my homily a full circle. If we do not occasionally try to take the focus off ourselves and focus on God, then we may struggle to find God in ordinary life; and if we struggle to find God in the ordinary, then we may struggle to find God in the midst of the crisis. Spirituality is about allowing God to be God in our lives - from the mountain top to the ordinary. 

Ever Eucharist is the celebration of an awesome who is present to us in the ordinary. Let us stand here in awe of our awesome God and take him home to our ordinary lives. 

- Fr. Satish Joseph