Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Transformation
To change from one level of living to another, be it higher or lower. Through Baptism, a person becomes geared to a higher level of living because of the sense of commitment inherent in being a disciple of Christ. Today's readings give examples of this power of transformation.

Genesis 15: 5-12;17-18 - Outlines the covenant between God and Abraham that transformed history with the emergence of the "Chosen People" with their long line of Prophets and Leaders, culminating with Christ.

Philippians 3: 17; 4:1: Here, Paul is recommending to the newly formed Christian community at Philippi the need to know why they have converted to Christ, and to recognise the need for the virtue of perseverance if they are to hold firm against the criticism that is been directed at them.

St. Luke 9: 28-36: - The Transfiguration is as baffling today as it was to the Apostles who accompanied Christ to the mountain. One thing certain,  the experience effected a total transformation in Christ and in the Apostles. For Christ, the future course of his mission became clear - he must go to Jerusalem, suffer, die and be resurrected. This conviction also served to deepen the Apostles' commitment to him.

Point 1: Among the more frequently heard appeals made to Christians is for them to renew their commitment. A quick look at western society reveals a fairly dramatic change in values; although people still acknowledge the need for spiritual values in their lives, many believe that this can be achieved without attachment to formal religious structures. Not so long ago, the battle for people's minds was locked between totalitarian Communism and Free enterprise Capitalism. At the time, those advocating our western lifestyle made much of the criticism levelled at Soviet life style and its denial of basic human rights by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Russian author, dissident and expatriate. At one point he was stripped of his soviet citizenship, but has since been reinstated. He wrote that, as a way of life, soviet style communism was "zero and less than zero"; but, he went on to say -"should someone ask me whether I would indicate the West, such as it is today, as a model to my country, frankly, I would have to answer negatively". He went on to explain that "contemporary man's loss of the concept of a Supreme Complete Entity which used to restrain his passions and his irresponsibility" has contributed greatly to the West's present decline as a moral leader; the spiritual exhaustion of western society is furthered evidenced in extreme materialism, sharp legal manoeuvring, a press that invades privacy, pornography, TV stupor and intolerable music.

Point 2: This is a very pessimistic and disturbing assessment, but, for all of that, accurate. It has to be acknowledged that we cannot continue to draw upon our moral and spiritual heritage without doing something about its continued growth. Christianity has made a valued contribution to our way of life, and nothing should be allowed to weaken our confidence in the belief that in some small way, each committed Christian can make the world a better and more humane place. That is why, at regular intervals, we need to recharge the batteries; boost the old transformer. If Christ needed a boost to get to where he was going, then, too, so do we.

Conclusion: Perseverance is a keystone of our Christian character. Here, as always, perseverance is governed by the value of the goal being pursued. That is why, despite the run down in spiritual values in today's society, we ought never to forget the resilience of the Christian message of Faith and Hope and its power to transform people. Each of us, in our own small way, can contribute. But we need to do more than just "hang in there"! As the old song has it, we need to -"Accentuate the positive! Eliminate the negative"!

Scriptural reference: " Love the Lord all you his faithful people! The Lord keeps those who are constant, but more than requites those who act proudly. Take courage and be stout-hearted all you who hope in the Lord". (Psalm 31:23-24)