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The Transfiguration – A model for prayer

Second Sunday of Lent 2016

Today as with every Sunday we come together to pray and to listen to Jesus, the beloved Son of God.  And during Lent we are called to spend more time in prayer.  Jesus is our example:  When he prayed the Gospel said his face changed in appearance and his clothes became white.  Prayer changed Jesus.  And so that is the power of prayer for us.  It changes us.  It can elevate us out of the problems and worries of the world and brings us into a different place, into the presence of God, and for a moment we can sense the glory of Heaven.  Jesus allowed the three disciples to experience the glory of Heaven for a moment, to see his glorified body.  And that is the goal of our life, to enter into Heaven and in the end receive a glorified body.  It is promised to us, covenant promise that goes all the way back to Abraham our father in faith.  When we pray we renew this covenant bond that promises eternal life.  So if we are not praying, the Christian life makes no sense.  Lent is meaningless, and our religion is just a bunch of rituals.  But when we pray, we are changed and renewed because it puts us in the presence of God.  Do you pray?  Have you made it a point to pray more this Lent?  We should be praying at least 30 minutes a day.  How much time do we use watching T.V., eating, driving, and other activities?  We can use these activities as opportunities to pray:  Before and after meals, before and after driving, at the beginning and end of the day.  There are all kinds of ways to pray:  Praying out loud or in silence, Praise and worship, Adoration, prayers of petition, thanksgiving, Lectio Divina, Rosary, Litinies, Novenas, Praying with the saints. 

One thing unique about the Catholic way of praying is our praying with the Saints.  Did we make this up?  Where did we get it from?  We learn it from Jesus.  We hear in the today’s Gospel that when Jesus was praying he was seen conversing with Moses and Elijah.  These men had died a long time before Jesus but there they were talking to him.  Our prayer puts us into contact with the Communion of Saints, those holy men and women that have gone before us.  They are in Heaven and are looking down on us below.  They’ve been through the trials on earth and can help us if we ask them.  So when we pray to the saints we have some powerful help.  But someone may ask, “Why do we not just go straight to God when you pray?”  Well, why do we ask others to help us with things here on earth and not just go straight to God to ask him to do it?  It is because God willed that we help one another and this glorifies God.  I mean you can file your taxes yourself, or you can get someone to help you who knows more about it.  The saints actually help us with our prayer to God.  They help our prayer to be better and even more effective than if we were just to do it alone. 

But it is true, the ultimate purpose and power of prayer is that it does bring us into communion with God.  So after the conversation with Moses and Elijah, a cloud came down from the sky which represents the Holy Spirit.  And from the cloud the voice of the Father is heard saying “this is my chosen Son; listen to him.”  So our prayer invites the presence of the Holy Spirit and opens our spiritual ears to hear the voice of God.  But like with music, if you don’t turn on the radio you are not going to hear and enjoy it.  So if we are going to hear God and enjoy a relationship with God we have to pray.    In prayer we tune into God.  We actually enter into the mystery of Holy Trinity, the Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.  Nothing that we do in life is more important than spending time in prayer.  It transfigures us.  And when our prayer is combined with fasting and alms giving it is even more powerful. 

Of course, not all prayer is going to be glorious.  Often times it is hard.  Often we don’t feel anything or hear anyone.  We get fatigued with trying and we give up, we turn on the T.V., surf the internet, or take a nap.  There are a thousand distractions to keep us from praying.  In the Gospel, Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep and would have missed the Transfiguration if they did not wake up.  So we have to be alert.  God is always present and prayer brings us into his presence.  But it isn’t like our use of the remote control for T.V.  God doesn’t automatically appear at the push of a button.  No he chooses if and when to speak to us.  So we have to constantly make an effort lest we miss out on what he wants to say to us. 

We have to learn patience and perseverance.  This is true with anything worth doing in life.  If someone quits after only five minutes of fishing they are never going to catch a fish.  If someone doesn’t invest anymore because they didn’t make a return right away, they will never make any money.  We have to keep trying.  In our prayer, we have to have faith and listen and not just repeat words over and over without thinking, without meditating on them.  We have to pray with our heart believing that somebody is really there:  That the saints are in the presence of God and that they see what we cannot and so can help us; that Jesus is in Heaven with a glorified body and our prayer renews our hope that we will his glory; that the Holy Spirit wants to come down upon us and empower us with divine strength to live a vibrant Christian life; and that the Father loves us and sees us as his chosen ones, his sons, his daughters, just like he did when Jesus prayed while he was on earth.  May our prayer today and every day change our appearance, make our faces beam with joy, take away our anxiety, strengthen our spirit, and make us more like Christ.  Amen.

St. Bernadette Roman Catholic Church
101 South College Street
Cedartown, GA 30125
(770) 748-1517
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