Homily Notes. Matt. 17:1-9
Peter, James and John glimpse ‘something greater’
Of course, it wasn’t the first time. With Jesus there’s always ‘something greater’ to be experienced.
That’s our first lesson – the disciples are always in the company of Jesus, stuck to him, and in his company their hearts are opened out to ‘something greater’
Significantly, they climb a very high mountain before they glimpse this ‘something greater’. This too is instructive – if we’re going to develop spiritually it’s like climbing an interior mountain. But the higher we go the more beautiful and dangerous it becomes. Many don’t make it.
While on the mountain-top they glimpse another world, Jesus is transfigured and he’s talking with Moses and Elijah, two great men of God long since dead.
This suggests continuity. Jesus is the continuation of a line through history and if we care to look the line is marked by individual holy lives shining brightly in the midst of corruption – it’s not just anybody Jesus is talking with as he is transfigured! But do you seriously think the line stopped with Jesus? Jesus is the pivotal point, the line flowed to him and flows from him, to this day, and it will remain until the end of time a line marked by holy men and women shining brightly in the darkness.
Where’s the line? Wouldn’t you want to be a part of that line?
Peter wants to stay on the mountain top – he suggests making tents – but we can’t live on a mountain-top, we have to come back down the mountain.
When we have a spiritual experience it is grace that’s doing the work, God is doing the work, carrying us. At some point God is going to put you back down and say; now you do it, walk the walk yourself. If you’re really advancing he’ll put you back down and withdraw his favour for a time. If you survive you’re well on the way to becoming a Saint.
Of course, Peter is going to come back down the mountain; big time! In the face of the suffering and death of Jesus he’ll crack, denying Jesus; mountain-top to the valley of tears. It’s all our lives.
But at some point Peter is going to remember the mountain-top experience. At some point the memory will click-in and it’ll carry him through the valley of tears.
Which brings us to something that really troubles me. I have seen a massive exodus from the Catholic Church in my lifetime – for many reasons. I have also seen many peoples’ faith crumble in the face of difficulty and it leaves me wondering if the people abandoning the Church and faith have ever been to the mountain-top with Christ within their Catholicism, have they ever known ‘something greater’ within their Catholicism – if they had they simply wouldn’t be exiting!
No, they’d be saying with Peter, it is wonderful for us to be here, to be Catholic, we’ll make some tents so we can stay!