Mass celebrated at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne

Sunday 25 February 2018

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

“We have come to know and to believe in his love
because God has loved us first.” (1 John 4:16)

There are many stories of sons or daughters smitten with the need for expensive medical treatment, unable to find it until a father or benefactor comes along.

Today’s story of the Transfiguration shows through the human eyes of Peter, James and John, God revealing Jesus as his only Son and challenging us to listen to him.

If you go to the mountain of the Transfiguration you can see in the distance how it dominates the landscape. Indeed, buses cannot go up the narrow road. There is a hair-raising ride in taxis, which brings you to the breathless panorama of the world laid out beneath. The height, the land and sea, the closeness to heaven, all point to the reality of the scene that has been depicted in today’s Gospel. Jesus showed himself as the only Son of the Father to strengthen Peter, James and John for his approaching passion and to strengthen our resolve to continue our Lenten journey. We descend from this breathtaking, earthly panorama with a deeper faith in the wonder and power of God.

It is the same God who called Abraham, the same God who gave us his Son, Jesus, to suffer and die for us. Saint Paul gives us the remarkable words for Peter, James and John and for us. When God acquits could anyone condemn? Could Christ Jesus? No. He not only died for us, he rose from the dead and there at God’s right hand he stands and pleads for us.

It is by listening to Jesus, by having his mind, by having him as a real person and putting his deeds into practice in our life that we can be transformed. Saint Leo the Great wrote these words:

“Why do you fear to be redeemed?
Why tremble at being healed of your wounds?
Let that be done which I willing, Christ wills.
Put away bodily fear, and arm yourselves with steadfast faith: for it is unfitting you should fear in the passion of your Saviour what, by his gift to you, you shall not fear in your own end.”
(Saint Leo the Great, Sermon 51)

By looking at Jesus we find the example, the action of God and the saving power to be transformed. But we have to consent now. We have to live not just for the here and now, but for the life to come, of which this life is only a shadow.

Lent proposes for us this question and that is why prayer, reflection on Scripture, challenging ourselves so that our vision may be clear is God’s invitation to us.

Until this story of Jesus’ Transfiguration, the disciples did not really know who he was. On the mountaintop they came to see Jesus in a new way. They saw the light of God’s favour flow down on Jesus and heard the voice of God declaring this is my Son.

We have to see Jesus as he is. We have to have his mind and his deeds in our life and then the light from his transfiguration will guide our way to the resurrection. This is our challenge this Lent.

+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.

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