Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies


2nd Sunday of Lent
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
February 21st, 2016
Year C

Remember the story of Helen Keller? While she was just an infant, she barely survived a severe fever that left her blind and deaf. For the next six years, she became more and more frustrated and violent. She was stuck inside the prison of her own emotions. Her parents searched for solutions. Eventually, they hired a young woman, Annie Sullivan, to live with the family and become Helen's teacher. She started spelling words into the palm of Helen’s hand with finger motions and began to tame her temper. When Helen only seemed to get worse, Annie didn't give up. She patiently continued to spell words, get to know Helen and try to understand her, to win her trust. Her patience paid off. It happened at a water pump. With the cool water from the pump flowing over Helen’s right hand, Annie spelled the word “water” into the child's left hand. Suddenly, Helen understood, as when a child first learns to read. Annie had opened Helen’s mind to the world around her. She began to ask Annie to spell other words while she touched other objects. Within the next hour Helen had learned 30 words: she was freed from her prison of darkness and entered the world of light.

In our gospel, St. Luke reports the event of the Transfiguration. Like Helen Kelleher, the disciples, having been given a glimpse of the glory of God, move from a world of darkness to light. Think about it, after having climbed up a high mountain, they are naturally tired. St. Luke tells us that they were overcome by sleep, meaning they were on the verge of darkness. In this sense, sleep functions as the faithless counterpart to vigilance in prayer. It is no surprise that the “dazzling white” appearance of Jesus woke them up! In that moment a glimpse of the resurrection is made manifest to them. Furthermore, it is also understood as a full disclosure of Jesus’ divinity. Obviously, St. Peter and the other disciples do not fully comprehend this moment as it was happening. They only partially grasped its significance, as is evident in Peter’s response: “Lord, it is good for us to be here!” No kidding Peter!

What would you say if I told you that a similar event to the Transfiguration happens everyday? How would you respond if I told you that Jesus reveals Himself to us everyday and I can tell you where? Could you guess what I would tell you??? At Mass! In the Holy Eucharist is made present to us the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. Albeit veiled under the form of bread and wine, the Risen Lord appears to us everyday and is among us in the Eucharist. Here’s the problem, though, we are a lot like Peter – we have an obstructed vision. Our sins put us to sleep and do damage to our souls. The event of the Mass, each time it is celebrated, is a lot like the event of the Transfiguration where something so amazing happens that it should awaken us from slumber and thus propel us from a world of darkness into a world of light – ordinary bread and wine is transformed into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ!

It makes one stop and think, doesn’t it? Do I really believe this? For this is truly a moment, an event, an encounter in time, with the One who occupies eternity. It is meant to strengthen us in faith, nourish our souls with grace, and transform us into His own likeness. It, however, can do nothing if we are asleep, if we are in darkness. When we come to Communion with serious sins on our souls, this grace remains dormant because our souls have been darkened. This is what makes the sacraments of confession and the Eucharist so important and essential to our faith. Let us pray that this be an encounter that awakens us from the slumber and darkness of sin and open our eyes to the world of light that radiates from heaven.


Fr. Jon Reardon

Rev. Jonathan L. Reardon is a priest for the diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.
He serves at Sacred Heart Parish in Pittsfield, MA.

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