Feast of the Transfiguration (A)
August 06, 2023
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.

O God, who in the glorious Transfiguration
of your Only Begotten Son
confirmed the mysteries of faith by the witness of the Fathers
and wonderfully prefigured our full adoption to sonship,
grant, we pray, to your servants,
that, listening to the voice of your beloved Son,
we may merit to become co-heirs with him.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever.  Amen.
First Reading Dn 7:9-10,13-14
As I watched:
Thrones were set up
and the Ancient One took his throne.
His clothing was bright as snow,
and the hair on his head as white as wool;
his throne was flames of fire,
with wheels of burning fire.
A surging stream of fire
flowed out from where he sat;
Thousands upon thousands were ministering to him,
and myriads upon myriads attended him.
The court was convened and the books were opened.
As the visions during the night continued, I saw:
One like a Son of man coming,
on the clouds of heaven;
When he reached the Ancient One
and was presented before him,
The one like a Son of man received dominion, glory, and kingship;
all peoples, nations, and languages serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
that shall not be taken away,
his kingship shall not be destroyed.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 97:1-2,5-6,9
R. The Lord is king, the Most High over all the earth.
The LORD is king; let the earth rejoice;
let the many islands be glad.
Clouds and darkness are round about him,
justice and judgment are the foundation of his throne. 
The mountains melt like wax before the LORD,
before the LORD of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his justice,
and all peoples see his glory.  
Because you, O LORD, are the Most High over all the earth,
exalted far above all gods.   
Second Reading 2 Pt 1:16-19
We did not follow cleverly devised myths
when we made known to you
the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,
but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty.
For he received honor and glory from God the Father
when that unique declaration came to him from the majestic glory,
"This is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased."
We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven
while we were with him on the holy mountain.
Moreover, we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable.
You will do well to be attentive to it,
as to a lamp shining in a dark place,
until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 
Alleluia Mt 17:5c
Gospel Mt 17:1-9
Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother, John, 
and led them up a high mountain by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them; 
his face shone like the sun 
and his clothes became white as light.
And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them,
conversing with him.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, 
"Lord, it is good that we are here.
If you wish, I will make three tents here, 
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."
While he was still speaking, behold,
a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, 
then from the cloud came a voice that said, 
"This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased;
listen to him."
When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate
and were very much afraid.
But Jesus came and touched them, saying,
"Rise, and do not be afraid."
And when the disciples raised their eyes, 
they saw no one else but Jesus alone.
As they were coming down from the mountain,
Jesus charged them,
"Do not tell the vision to anyone 
until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead."
Catena Nova (See the readings for the Novena to the Transforming Light)
     “A bright light filled the plane.”  That's how Colonel Paul Tibbets, the pilot of the Enola Gay, described the moment when the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.  After seeing the mushroom cloud “boiling up” to engulf the city, everyone in the plane, he recounts, began shouting, “Look at that!  Look at that!  Look at that!”  Colonel Tibbets turned from the blinding light long enough to write in his journal, “My God, what have we done?”  The new movie Oppenheimer asks the same question.
     But I wonder if anyone involved in the Manhattan Project that gave us the bomb, from Oppenheimer and the other scientists who invented the technology, to the military personnel who oversaw its development, to President Truman who ordered its use, to the pilots who dropped it, I wonder if any of them was aware of a strange coincidence that August day in 1945.  Namely, that Christian churches through­out the world were celebrating a feast of the Lord Jesus Christ, the feast of his transfiguration on Mount Tabor, when a “bright light” and a “cloud” of another sort engulfed the Savior, causing his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light (cf. G).
     I also wonder if anyone then, or since, has noted another coincidence: namely, that the Feast of the Transfiguration was established five hundred years ago in the Catholic Church by Pope Callistus III on the day the defeat of the Muslim Turks by Christian forces at Belgrade in 1456 was announced. The Turkish incursion being yet another attempt by a world power, like Japan’s, to expand its borders by a ruthless program of war and aggression.  The end of the Byzantine Empire with its seat at Constantinople had taken place only 3 years earlier as the city henceforth known as Istanbul fell to Ottoman forces.
     Now debates rage over the rightness or the wrongness of the decision to unleash a nuclear bomb over Japan.  Although he felt Truman's decision was morally justified, in an interview about his reaction to the first successful detonation of the bomb in the New Mexico desert, Oppenheimer himself famously said, "I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita.  'Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.'" One might also question the rightness or the wrongness of the Pope’s decision to celebrate a Christian military victory over the Muslim Turks by recourse to our Lord’s transfiguration.  
     No matter one's opinion, suffice it to say how the aftermath of the President's decision is a Doomsday Clock currently set to 90 seconds to midnight as we ponder the threat of nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran, or China's rapidly increasing nuclear arsenal, or North Korea' test last month of a ballistic missile able to reach the United States or, finally, Russia's threat last Saturday should Ukraine's counter offensive succeed. No wonder Oppenheimer lived to regret the inevitable proliferation of such weapons and, of course, the development of the hydrogen bomb.  And don't forget the on-going tensions between Western and Muslim civilizations that continue to drive world history in the age of terror from 9/11 onward. 
     But what might these historic coincidences, converging on August 6th, mean?  How this day is forever remembered as one when the world learned powers at war with each other faced a decisive moment leaving one the conqueror and the other vanquished?  How this same day is set aside by the church to remember the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, [made known by] the eyewit­nesses of his majesty . . . [who heard] that unique declaration [which] came to him from the majestic glory: “This is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased” (cf. II).  What shall we make of this strange conjunction of earthly and heavenly power?
     Well, for one thing, the Lord Jesus Christ was transfigured on his way to Jerusalem where he would suffer, die, and only after this, “rise from the dead.”  The revelation of his glory was given to those chosen witnesses, Peter, James, and John, so that the scandal of the Cross might be removed from the hearts of his disciples (cf. Preface).
May I suggest that August 6th in the course of world history and of the liturgical year, reminds us -- by a providential conjunction -- how “power” in Christian terms can only mean the power of the cross— with all its folly and all its scandal in the eyes of a world that so often prefers to trust a light and a cloud other than those which appeared on Mount Tabor.  For the world’s form of “victory” is rarely the solution we want or imagine, at least not in the long run.  For more often than not, the world's ways sooner or late make us ask, “My God, what have we done?”  
     And so we must be attentive to another power, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in [our] hearts (II).  Namely, Christ.  For the prophet Daniel foresaw that dominion belongs neither to a Turkish Sultan nor to a Roman Pope; not to an Emperor of Japan nor a President of the United Sates, but to One like a son of man coming on the clouds of heaven.  He has received dominion, glory, kingship; nations and peoples of every language serve him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed (I).  For he lives and reigns, forever and ever.  Amen.

Intercessions (Joe Milner; The Sunday Website)

For the Church: that God will transform us through our listening to the Word of God and sharing in the Eucharist so that we can radiate God’s glory through our lives.

For the grace to recognize Christ each day: that God will give us open and attentive hearts to recognize Jesus in the many ways that He comes into our lives and the courage to respond to follow wherever Christ leads us.

For those whose lives have been overshadowed by pain, sickness or grief: that Christ be the light who dispels their darkness and that the power of the resurrection guides them to newness of life.

For all who have lost hope: that the glory of the Transfiguration may free them from despair and open a new vision for what God can do for each person.

For those who are suffering from storms, floods, wildfires: that God will give them strength, guide them as they rebuild their lives and help the hearts of many to respond to their need.

For all who are bound by addiction: that God will transform them and lead them to resources to renew their lives.

For those held unjustly, particularly those who are victims of human trafficking: that God will free them from oppression and open new lives with life-giving possibilities and relationships.

For peace: that God will help world leaders to end violence in Ukraine so that all may live in peace and safety.

O God, whom no eye has ever seen, you have revealed your glory in the transfigured face of your Son.
Through his voice, you have spoken your Word to us.
Give light to our eyes; make us attentive to the Gospel, for in baptism we have become his brothers and sisters and your children.
Hear us through this same beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen. (ICEL; 1998)

Offertory Hymn


Tis good, Lord, to be here!
Your glory fills the night;
Your face and garments, like the sun,
Shine with unborrowed light.

Tis good, Lord, to be here,
Your beauty to behold,
Where Moses and Elijah stand,
Your messengers of old.

Fulfiller of the past!
Promise of things to be!
We hail your body glorified,
And our redemption see.

Before we taste of death,
We see your kingdom come;
We long to hold the vision bright,
And make this hill our home.

Tis good, Lord, to be here!
Yet we may not remain;
But since you bid us leave the mount,
Come with us to the plain.

Communion Chant  
Closing Hymn


Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
be all else but naught to me, save that Thou art;
be Thou my best thought in the day and the night,
both waking and sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, be Thou my true Word;
be Thou ever with me, and I with Thee, Lord;
be Thou my great Father, and I Thy true son;
be Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my Breastplate, my Sword for the fight;
be Thou my whole Armor, be Thou my true Might;
be Thou my soul’s Shelter, be Thou my strong Tow’r,
O raise Thou me heav’nward, great Pow’r of my pow’r.

Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise;
be Thou mine inheritance, now and always;
be Thou and Thou only the first in my heart,
O High King of heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of heaven, Thou heaven's bright Sun,
O grant me its joys, after vict'ry is won;
Great Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
still be Thou my vision, O Ruler of all.