Feast of the Transfiguration 2023
Updated: Aug 6
Karen and Mike Mahaney from New Jersey on the top of the Mount of Transfiguration in Israel November 2022.
As most of you know I led a pilgrimage to the Holy Land last November. Our group from New York was randomly brought together with another Catholic group from New Jersey.
Due to an unforeseen flight cancellation, a few of us from New York arrived later than expected, missing the visit to the peak of the Mount of Transfiguration, making it only to the base.
Upon our reunion with the group, a couple from the New Jersey group approached me.
“Father,” they said, “We’re Mike and Karen Mahaney from New Jersey. We also have a summer home in Schroon Lake and we’ve been to your masses at Our Lady of Lourdes!”
That was indeed an unexpected surprise!
As we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration today, we see echoes of this Gospel event in our own experiences.
Consider the surprise that the disciples must have felt when they witnessed Jesus' transformation on that mountain top. We too were surprised by the unexpected encounter with familiar faces in a foreign land. These are God's divine surprises - reminders that He often reveals Himself when and where we least expect.
Then, we reflect on the unity of our faith. Much like Peter, James, and John shared a profound experience on the mountain, we, pilgrims from New York and New Jersey, were united in our shared faith and purpose in the Holy Land.
This is the beauty of our universal Church - no matter our origins or destinations, we remain one in faith, one in the Body of Christ.
Finally, let's ponder on the value of the journey itself. Despite not reaching the mountaintop of the Transfiguration, our experience at the base was filled with grace. We learned that disruptions and detours are not necessarily setbacks; rather, they can lead us to surprising encounters and deepen our faith. It's a powerful reminder that in our spiritual journey, every step we take matters.
Coincidentally, the Feast of the Transfiguration also falls on the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945.
As we consider the glorious light of the Transfiguration, we are called to reflect soberly on another moment of light and transformation, one that contrasts sharply with the divine love we celebrate today.
The light of the Transfiguration heals, enlightens, and draws us closer to God. It's a manifestation of divine love that calls us to be transformed into the image of Christ.
On the other hand, the light of Hiroshima, the atomic bomb, represents human ingenuity turned towards destruction. It's a reminder of our capacity for both creation and devastation, love and fear.
These two events, though vastly different, challenge us to contemplate the paths we choose in life.
Do we seek the light of Christ, the light that brings life, hope, and unity? Or are we drawn to paths that may lead to separation and destruction?
Our pilgrimage through life is filled with choices and divine surprises. May we be open to God's presence in unexpected places, may we recognize our unity in faith, and may we continually seek the light of Christ.
As we commemorate the Transfiguration today, let's remember that God is not only in the radiant mountaintop experiences but also in the valleys, in the unplanned detours, and in the familiarity amidst the unfamiliar.
As we journey through life, may we stay open to divine surprises, foster our unity in faith, and embrace every step of our journey, knowing that God is with us at every moment, transfiguring us to become ever more like Him.
Let us go forth this day, inspired by the Transfiguration, committed to being instruments of Christ's peace, and bearing His radiant glory in a world in need of healing and transformation.
Here is an incredible update on this story: This morning after the 9 am mass (when I told this story) I was approached by a woman while I was greeting people at the front doors of the church. She looked familiar. "Father Chris, my name is Tricia and I am from New Jersey. I was on that same pilgrimage with you and Mike and Karen in November, too!"