Homily – The Transfiguration on the Lord (A) – by Fr. Tim Cusick


Daniel 7:9-10.13-14

Psalm 97

2 Peter 1:16-19

Matthew 17:1-9

On this day, 72 years ago, humanity entered the Atomic Age. The delivery of a nuclear weapon at Hiroshima revealed to the world a power in nature that staggered the mind. The tiniest amounts of matter had a potential hidden with them which could bring about an unprecedented destructive force.

The Bomb ended a terrible war in a horrifying way. Human reason had discovered how to unleash the power of the atom – but could we control it? Could we direct it to peaceful purposes? Could we avoid the destructive tendencies of our own nature?

So far we have – but the questions and anxieties remain. By the grace of God, the human race has been preserved from a final insanity. By the grace of God – for there is another hidden power in the universe, one greater by far than the power of the atom, because it comes from the One who made the atom. But few people recognize it; fewer still seek it.

This is the power revealed at the Transfiguration – the power of the Creator Himself, hidden beneath a human form. It shone forth for the disciples to give them a glimpse of Who Jesus truly was – but also of what we are meant to be. This power is accessible to us, by grace, and in the sacraments, especially the Most Holy Eucharist.

Hidden beneath the elements of bread and wine, the Real Presence of our Creator and Redeemer – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity – awaits us. Do we truly realize the power of this Presence? If we did, we could transform the world!

St. Paul tells us that “I live, yet no longer I, Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20) – this is meant to be the result of our reception of the Eucharist. But in the same passage he adds, “I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” We have to have faith in the presence and power of Christ in us if it is to have effect.

To increase this faith in Christ’s continued presence in the Eucharist, and, therefore, in us, we need to come before Him. This is a primary reason for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament: to come to a deeper recognition of Christ’s Real Presence, and to learn to bring that presence to the world – for that is to bring true hope, and true peace, to the world.

Notice how Jesus teaches us this through the Transfiguration: He has just predicted His Passion and Death to the disciples, and they are distraught at the very idea. So He takes them away from the tumult of the crowds, up a high mountain, alone. We need to do this, too – take time away from our anxieties and our fears, our cares and our burdens, and just be with the Lord Jesus. Adoration allows us to do that.

Next, Jesus reveals to them His inner radiance – the glory which He shared with the Father before the foundation of the world, but which remained hidden to most eyes as He accepted fully our human condition. This allowed the disciples to overcome their fear of what would happen to Him – as He would tell them at the Last Supper, “You will have troubles in the world, but fear not – I have conquered the world” (John 16:33). Nothing ultimately will stand in the way of God’s purposes for us; we simply have to trust Him, and know that there is often more to our life than meets the eye. In Adoration, we too are offered a glimpse of the glory of the Lord which can sustain us.

Then Moses and Elijah appear, for a brief time. Moses represents the Law, Elijah the prophets; Jesus is their fulfillment. Notice that the voice tells the disciples to listen to Him, and at the end of the story, “they saw no else but Jesus alone.” We are meant to keep our eyes fixed on Him alone, and to listen for His voice. But we find this difficult in an age filled with so many distractions. Committing ourselves to Adoration can help us to silence our minds and hearts, and listen to the voice of Jesus, who seeks to guide us to peace and freedom of spirit. As St. Peter says in the 2nd reading, reflecting on his experience on the mountaintop, “Be attentive [to His word], as to a lamp shining in the dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your heart.”

What is this morning star? Christ Himself, who desires to dwell within us and make us like He is. As St. Paul says in 2nd Corinthians, “All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Finally, Jesus and the disciples return to the bottom of the mountain to resume their tasks – Adoration is not an escape, but rather sustains and strengthens us to face the challenges of life, knowing that we are never truly alone – and that we have a destiny beyond imagining.

Beginning next month, we will have further opportunities to adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Our new Adoration Chapel, located in the old choir room behind the main altar, should be completed at the end of August. It will be beautiful, and even more so when the stained glass is installed later this year. Initially, it will be open during daytime hours during the week: Monday-Friday from 9:30 am-5:00 pm. (If there is sufficient interest, we will extend the time on Wednesdays until 6:45 pm, just before our Wednesday evening Mass.) We hope over time to extend these hours, perhaps even to Perpetual Adoration in the future. (Bishop Estévez told me the other day that his only concern is that the chapel will prove to be too small – the attraction of Christ in the Eucharist draws more and more people over time!)

But to do this, we need you! I’m asking that we have a minimum of 4 people in Adoration each hour that the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, to ensure that the Eucharist is never left unattended. After Mass, you will have the opportunity to sign up to spend an hour with the Lord one day a week. Please prayerfully consider responding to the call of Christ to adore Him, to recognize His powerful presence hidden in the Host, to fix your gaze on Him, to listen for His voice. I ask that you do this for yourself, for your families, for our parish, for our community, and for our world, which so desperately needs the peace that Jesus offers—a peace the world cannot give.

Let us give ourselves wholeheartedly to the Lord, so that He may dwell with us, and within us, and allow us to bring His transforming power to all Creation. Amen.