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Sunday, August 6, 2017

A Homily – Matthew 17:1 - 9 ©

The Gospel According to Matthew – 2017.03.12

First Reading - Daniel 7:9-10,13-14 ©
Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 96(97):1-2,5-6,9 ©
Second reading - 2 Peter 1:16-19 ©
Gospel Acclamation - Mt17:5
Gospel Reading - Matthew 17:1-9 ©

Constructing Idols in Narrative

The readings for today do a disservice to the work and ministry of Jesus. The readings betray the simple injunction God, the creator of the universe, has given to the faithful: to love God (through the love you show your neighbor), to do good, and to seek justice.

In the book of Daniel we see that the authors are more interested in pomp and circumstance, in titles and royal courts than they are in the true work of the living and loving God.

God is not a king.

Jesus was not a king.

God and God’s anointed are servants.

Glory is not what we are called to seek, but the good, expressed in the care we give to our neighbor, our family, the stranger, and even those we have enmity with.

Do not look for the God at the head of an army, riding in a vehicle of war, look for God in the marginalized, the hungry and the poor.

I do not fault the writers of these books for being human, they were ordinary people, and like ordinary people they gave great concern to titles, pride of place, and matters of power and authority.

God is not a king, or a lord, and neither was Jesus.

God is Abba, father; Jesus is brother, teacher, friend.

God is the keeper of a garden.

God is not the ruler of a royal court.

God is a mystery, every person is a part of God’s family, a beloved child.

God has no enemies.

The ten commandments give an injunction about the worship of idols, statues, graven images.

If you have never worshipped an idol made of stone, or wood, or gold, do not think you are superior to those who have, because idolatry can be found in more than the worship of objects. The most insidious form of idolatry, is the worship we give to idols made of words, contained in creeds, written in books, sung in songs, glorified in the liturgy, constructed from ideas and beliefs.

Beware the false prophet.

Prophecy does not come from the well of a single person’s imagination.

The impulse to issue prophecy must be vetted in community, and even that is no guarantee of truthfulness.

Communities are just as capable of self-deception as individuals.

A prophecy is not a portent of future events, even though a prophet may talk in terms of possibilities, probabilities and eventualities.

Prophecy is a call to justice, to goodness, and the mercy ways of God, God who desires nothing more than that we love one another, with all of  our heart.

That is the test of prophecy.

As Christians we are bound to read the Gospel in the context of its truthfulness.

Let the Spirit of Truth guide us, even if it means rejecting a passage such as this, the transfiguration.

There may have been an actual event that this story is linked to, at time when Jesus, together with James and John went up the mountain by themselves to pray, to consult with one another and commune with God.

It may have been, that at such a time, Jesus connected in the mind of his brother James, and his confidant John, the essential message that his ministry was in line with that of Moses, the liberator, the law giver; and Elijah, the truthteller.

Let us accept that, Jesus brought them to this understanding, at a time on the mountain in a private moment between themselves.

The supernatural events described here did not happen.

We know this because we know that God, the creator of the universe does not engage in supernatural activities. God is the author of nature and its laws. God does not violate these laws for any reason, not to prove an argument, or to put on a show.

Always read the gospel in such a way that you strip from it the fantastical elements.

A fiction can only illuminate when it is known to be a metaphor. When fantasy poses as reality it darkens the way.

The Transfiguration

First Reading - Daniel 7:9-10,13-14 ©

As I watched:
Thrones were set in place
and one of great age took his seat.
His robe was white as snow,
the hair of his head as pure as wool.
His throne was a blaze of flames,
its wheels were a burning fire.
A stream of fire poured out,
issuing from his presence.
A thousand thousand waited on him,
ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.
A court was held
and the books were opened.
And I saw, coming on the clouds of heaven,
one like a son of man.
He came to the one of great age
and was led into his presence.
On him was conferred sovereignty,
glory and kingship,
and men of all peoples, nations and languages became his servants.
His sovereignty is an eternal sovereignty
which shall never pass away,
nor will his empire ever be destroyed.

Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 96(97):1-2,5-6,9 ©

The Lord is king, most high above all the earth.
The Lord is king, let earth rejoice,
  let all the coastlands be glad.
Cloud and darkness are his raiment;
  his throne, justice and right.
The Lord is king, most high above all the earth.
The mountains melt like wax
  before the Lord of all the earth.
The skies proclaim his justice;
  all peoples see his glory.
The Lord is king, most high above all the earth.
For you indeed are the Lord
  most high above all the earth,
  exalted far above all spirits.
The Lord is king, most high above all the earth.

Second reading - 2 Peter 1:16-19 ©

It was not any cleverly invented myths that we were repeating when we brought you the knowledge of the power and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; we had seen his majesty for ourselves. He was honoured and glorified by God the Father, when the Sublime Glory itself spoke to him and said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour.’ We heard this ourselves, spoken from heaven, when we were with him on the holy mountain.
  So we have confirmation of what was said in prophecies; and you will be right to depend on prophecy and take it as a lamp for lighting a way through the dark until the dawn comes and the morning star rises in your minds.

Gospel Acclamation - Mt17:5

Alleluia, alleluia!
This is my Son, the Beloved:
he enjoys my favour.
Listen to him.

Gospel Reading - Matthew 17:1 - 9 ©

Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone. There in their presence he was transfigured: his face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as the light. Suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared to them; they were talking with him. Then Peter spoke to Jesus. ‘Lord,’ he said ‘it is wonderful for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ He was still speaking when suddenly a bright cloud covered them with shadow, and from the cloud there came a voice which said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour. Listen to him.’ When they heard this the disciples fell on their faces overcome with fear. But Jesus came up and touched them. ‘Stand up,’ he said ‘do not be afraid.’ And when they raised their eyes they saw no one but only Jesus.

  As they came down from the mountain Jesus gave them this order, ‘Tell no one about the vision until the Son of Man has risen from the dead.’

18th Sunday of Ordinary Time – The Transfiguration

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