Thursday, 10 August 2017

Feast of the Transfiguration 6 Aug 2017 Sermon

Feast of the Transfiguration 6.8.17

We can feel good and feel bad at the same time. How do you feel, we ask each other. It depends what we look at. We are happy if we think about some things; unhappy if we think about other things. Both situations apply, at any time.

It makes us happy to think about God and His goodness to us. It makes us unhappy to think about all our various problems, personal or more general.

The Transfiguration, which we celebrate today, is one time, comparatively rare, that God shows His glory to us below; a miraculous display making a very welcome relief to the usual humdrum of our existence.

Such a revelation will always make us happy. It is a reminder from God that our reasons for joy greatly outweigh our reasons for sadness.

The occasional moment of ecstasy lifts us above our normal patterns of thinking, and gives us new energy for the future.

We do not ‘see’ God very often.

This is, for one part, because He is so much beyond us, in His infinite glory. We simply cannot take Him in. It is like trying to empty out the ocean using a bottle.

Further limiting us is our sinfulness. We have spread darkness by our sins, thus making it harder still to perceive the presence of God.

Our perception being thus dulled, we spend much of our time feeling gloomy and miserable about our various problems.

God, having mercy on us in our miseries, throws us a lifeline. He assures us at critical times that what we have believed about Him all along, is still true.

The consolations may be short and rare, but they connect us with a reality that is permanent and always close – the goodness of God, and His saving will towards us.

The negative feelings can be dissolved in the greater reality.

We keep our eyes (the eyes of faith) fixed on Our Lord, as did Peter when he began to walk on water. When he lowered his gaze, he began to sink (Mt 14,29-30).

We cannot generate consolations at will, but there are certain things we can do to bolster our sense of God’s goodness, and closeness - lots of prayer, reflection, meditation, noting His miracles, small and large.

Thus we develop a level of trust in Him, that He will never leave us abandoned.

So if you ask me how I feel, I feel good and bad at the same time, but the good is much deeper and more enduring. This is how St Paul can exhort us to ‘rejoice always’ (Ph 4,4).

Drawing upon that reservoir of joy we can change our thoughts and feelings. A sense of order and peace descends upon us. Anticipation of better things to come will sustain us.

This is not just wishful thinking, or playing with words. It is a real fact - that God is close to us - from which we draw strength.

We are told, especially when nervous, to take deep breaths. Our breathing is generally too shallow. In the spiritual world, we take ‘shallow breaths’ when we pray hurriedly and in a distracted manner.

If we really allow ourselves to be still and know that He is God (Ps 45,10), we will see more with the eyes of faith, and perceive with the heart.

We will not let sadness prevail. We must not be like the millionaire living as a miser. We call upon the riches we possess. We find consolation for every trouble, while troubles still last, eventually entering our own share of transfigured glory.

No comments: