The Transfiguration of Christ (2017)
Fr. Martin Fuchs´s sermon on 12th March 2017, Prague, Czech republic
2nd Sunday of Lent
In the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Ghost. Amen.
The Transfiguration of Christ reminds us of the essence of life, of our goal, of heaven: to seek God, our union with God.
Here on earth, union with God is already possible in a very special way: with the Holy Communion.
The most Blessed Sacrament contains God Himself, the source of grace, while all the other sacraments are subjected to the Holy Eucharist and confer only certain graces. The Holy Eucharist is like the sun and the other sacraments are the sun’s rays.
The Holy Church has the task of leading all the faithful to communion with Our Lord, and therefore it is not a mere coincidence that the Church makes the Easter communion a serious obligation:
“Every faithful of both sexes should – after they have reached the age of reason – confess all sins to their priests at least once a year. They should pray the imposed penance and receive reverently the sacrament of the Eucharist at least at Easter time, unless they intend not to receive it for a certain period of time according to the advice of their own priest….” (4th Lateran Council)
“Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.” (John 6:54)
But we should not only go to Holy Communion, we should have a good Holy Communion, so that we can bear a lot of fruit. As it is with all the sacraments, the lack of fruit does not depend on the sacrament, but on us, on our preparation. With this in mind, I want to explain the holy Gospel of Mount Tabor for a good reception of the Holy Communion:
Jesus takes three disciples to Mount Tabor
There are His preferred disciples. The Holy Gospel often mentions these three apostles together: Peter, John and James.
They are present when Jesus raised the daughter of Jairus, when Jesus was on Mount Tabor and when He was in the garden of Gethsemane.
The Gospel tells not only their good qualities but also their sins: the sharp rebuke when Peter wants to know nothing of suffering, when he doesn’t want to have his feet washed, when he denied Our Lord and when he cut off the right ear of Malchus.
Jesus rebuked the sons of thunder (Boanerges) (John and James), as they wanted to call down fire on a Samaritan town and also told off of their mother Salome who wanted to sit both sons next to God in the kingdom of heaven, one on the right and one on the left hand side.
The fact that they fell asleep in the garden of Gethsemani was not very great!
However, we can in every one of these three apostles see an attribute that we should have when we go to the Holy Communion:
Peter was the one who confessed the divinity of Jesus and the one who loved Him with all his heart. Saint Peter is an example for the divine virtue of faith. (Mathew 16:18)
James was the first martyr of the apostolic college. His body was later transferred to Santiago de Compostela. He is an example of the divine virtue of hope.
In Saint John, we find a pure heart that was able to truly love Our Lord. He is an example of the divine virtue of charity.
When the Saviour appeared to the disciples after the resurrection at the Sea of Tiberias, it was Saint John who first of all recognized the Lord. “It is the Lord,” he said.
A pure heart recognizes the Lord. And Our Lord reveals Himself to a pure heart.
So we must bring these qualities when we receive Holy Communion: faith, hope, and love.
He bringeth them up into a high mountain apart.
If God reveals Himself, then it happens in silence, away from the world. Moses received the Ten commandments on Mount Sinai, Elias got a vision on Mount Horeb and when Jesus gave the heart of His teaching, it was on a Mount as well, the so-called Sermon on the Mount.
Today it is the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, and later in the history of the Church, there will be saints who receive special graces on mountains: for example, Saint Francis of Assisi on Mount Alverna – He fell into ecstasy and received the stigmata after having implored God’s will and prayed for suffering.
We must leave the world behind us as well, when we want to have communion with God. We must abstain from worldly things: observe the fast before Holy Communion:
No solid food and no alcoholic drinks 3 hours before, and no non-alcoholic drinks 1 hour before receiving Holy Communion. There are exceptions for ill persons, of course.
And he was transfigured before them. And his face did shine as the sun: and his garments became white as snow. And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with him.
They talked to him about the future events in Jerusalem, about His suffering and His death.
Moses and Elias had prepared the people in the Old Testament for Jesus Christ by the law and the prophecies – especially His suffering and death was predicted.
In the state of supreme happiness Moses and Elias talked with Jesus about the suffering. This should encourage us to talk to the Saviour about His suffering, about our suffering, about our worries. “Soul of Christ, sanctify me… Passion of Christ strengthen me.”
Then Peter began to speak to Jesus: Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tents, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.
These three tents or cottages are a picture of the three tents or cottages in the Catholic Church: The tabernacle, the pulpit, the confessional.
As Moses and Elias prepared the people for Christ, so the pulpit and the confessional prepare the people for Christ, present in the tabernacle.
These are the central tasks of the pulpit and the confessional: to prepare the people for Christ in the Holy Communion; to teach the Ten commandments and through penance to prepare the faithful for the Holy Communion. That’s why the Ten commandments are normally fixed on the pulpit. After having committed a mortal sin, an act of contrition is not enough to go to the Holy Communion, we must first go to confession.
And as he was yet speaking, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them. And lo, a voice out of the cloud, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye him.
We should hear him. He alone has words of eternal life! We should say with Samuel: “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.”
We should consider also the words of Our Lord, when he spoke to Martha: “Your sister Mary has chosen the better part.”
Samuel and Mary, they wanted to listen to Our Lord. Let us listen to God, let us listen to His voice!
And the disciples hearing, fell upon their face, and were very much afraid. And Jesus came and touched them: and said to them, Arise, and fear not.
The first act we should do when we return to our place after receiving the Holy Communion, should be an act of worship. “Lord, you are the Most High, to whom everything is subject, my thoughts, my words, my actions, all that I am and that I have.”
And they lifting up their eyes saw no one but only Jesus. And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying: Tell the vision to no man, till the Son of man be risen from the dead.
Why had He imposed silence? Because these secrets are only for God loving people. (1 Kor. 2:6) Why did He take the three and only the three up to Mount Tabor? Because the law of the Old Testament wanted to fix a contract by two or three witnesses. (Deuteronomy 19:15)
We must return to our families as God loving people, as people who have their eyes open for heaven.
The Holy Gospel of the Transfiguration should help to give us a better disposition. It should encourage us - even if we fall again in a mortal sin – to stand up and go on.
Saint Peter was not immune after Tabor to remain free from mortal sin. It was a short time after Tabor when he betrayed his Master.
We can fall again as well – despite the Holy Communion.
Let us not remain on the floor! “Lord, you know, that I love you!”
May today’s Gospel help us towards good Easter confession and Easter Communion! Amen.
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. Amen.