HOMILY FOR THE SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT YEAR B
HOMILY THEME: “JESUS TOOK WITH HIM PETER AND JAMES AND JOHN,
AND LED THEM UP A HIGH MOUNTAIN APART, BY THEMSELVES. AND HE WAS TRANSFIGURED BEFORE THEM, AND HIS CLOTHES BECAME DAZZLING WHITE, SUCH AS
NO ONE ON EARTH COULD BLEACH THEM.” (Mark 9:2-3)
BY: Fr. Robert deLeon, CSC
On a recent morning traversing the hospital’s main lobby, I battled against the current as swarms of hospital staff members were just leaving, the ebb and flow a daily occurrence at this hour. Smiling and nodding my way through the bouncing bodies approaching me, I was nearly run down by a group of young Filipino nurses merrily making their way to the parking garage. Though I knew they’d been working all night, yet their present glee seemed to betray whatever tiredness threatened to overtake them. Recognizing a familiar face in the group, I called out at her approach, “Going home, huh?” With that, the lead nurse spread wide her arms, stopping the entire group of her colleagues dead in their tracks as she practically screamed her delight at exiting the hospital, “Going home is the best feeling in the world!” The whole group spontaneously broke into wild applause as they continued the jog to their cars in the parking garage. While I was just beginning a new day at the hospital, I knew I’d feel at least a bit of their exuberant glee when later in the day I also would be leaving. Truly, going home is the best feeling in the world!
All that day at the hospital, the young nurse’s words remained at the forefront of my consciousness as I visited patients very near the end of their homeward journey. While I believed the great truth she had earlier proclaimed (“Going home is the best feeling in the world!”), I didn’t see much evidence of this in patients standing on the very doorstep of the eternal home, even less in their families. While returning to an earthly home may indeed be the best feeling in the world, there is often great fear and anxiety about the return to the heavenly home, the place from whence we came, though we have no conscious memory of it. Perhaps that’s the problem: heaven may be home, but we have absolutely no recollection of it, just a lifetime of hopes and dreams about what we’ll actually find.
The gospel passage we hear today recounts the event of the transfiguration. St. Mark tells us: “Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them.” (Mark 9:2-3) Coming down the mountain afterwards, Jesus warned the disciples to hold their tongues about what they’d just seen, commenting that the mountaintop vision was meant to sustain them in the days ahead when Jesus would be betrayed and crucified.
The mountaintop vision was more than that, though. Indeed, it was also a glimpse of what awaits all of us at the great homecoming. It’s not so hard to imagine Peter, James and John wide-eyed in wonderment as Jesus, sun-bleached a-dazzle, shouted with arms thrown wide, “Going home is the best feeling in the world!”
As Jesus was quick to remind his disciples and us, though, the great going home is marked by certain anxiety and often agony, even for the most spiritual among us.