Two-Minute Homily by Fr Peter Brannelly for the Second Sunday of Lent 2023. “It is upon reflection, that we grasp the transfiguring experiences in which something ordinary and everyday suddenly becomes luminous to reveal something extraordinary and life-transforming.”
- Two-Minute Homily Transcript
Two-Minute Homily TranscriptAuthor: Archdiocese of Brisbane
The story of the transfiguration is one of those mystical, confusing, transcendent moments that’s hard to get your head around. If it is hard for us, imagine how Peter, James and John must have felt. When the mystical moment passes and that small little group heads down the mountain, Jesus does them a huge favour. He almost gives them a key to understanding what had happened. He tells them in effect, don’t even think of trying to make sense of what you have just witnessed until after I have been raised from the dead. Upon reflection, what you have witnessed here will begin to make sense.
Now isn’t that the case. It is upon reflection. That’s how we typically find meaning as the sacred events in our lives unfold; not so much in the moment itself, but later on, upon reflection. Sometimes the moment itself is either too mundane or too intense, either too ordinary or too dramatic to appreciate what’s happening. It’s often hours or days or even years later that we reflect on an event and discern its meaning, seeing the presence of God in it, as if for the first time.
Peter, James, and John take all this in, but they can’t grasp the meaning of it. It’s only later, upon reflection, after Easter, after the Resurrection, after the empty tomb, after he appears to them in a resurrected body that they begin to get the picture, they begin to put all of the pieces of the puzzle together.
Look, we’re no different. It is upon reflection, that we grasp the transfiguring experiences in which something ordinary and everyday suddenly becomes luminous to reveal something extraordinary and life-transforming. Astonishing sunsets, the primeval heave of the ocean, transcendent music, the birth of a baby, someone’s gentle touch at the right time, the bottoming out of despair, a sudden strange empathy with people to whom you have no connection. I’m sure that most of us have had personal experiences that set us outside the ordinary. They are moments of pure grace. You can’t make them happen. We can only be there when it does happen.
When the Spirit of God breaks into our lives, we don’t often recognise it for what it is. We call it coincidence, we say it was a unexpected moment or we say we got goose bumps. It’s usually upon reflection that we see the hand of God upon our decisions; upon reflection we see the presence of God in our dreams; upon reflection we see the Spirit of God in our relationships.
All I can tell you is that without reflection, without prayer, without discernment, our life experiences end up being random choices of luck or our feeble attempts of control. The challenge of Lent is to discover the unmistakable thumb print of God in our experiences and in our lives. That can happen I suppose through luck, like a bolt of lighting, more likely it will happen through reflection and that is what Lent is calling each one of us to do this coming week.