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Homily of Bishop William Crean – Transfiguration of the Lord-St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh 6th August, 2023

Transfiguration of the Lord

St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh

6th August, 2023

“Memory retrieves what’s worth keeping”

Eileen Casey poet

“I’ll always remember the day…” My friends, how often have we used that phrase or heard it used, as we and others, begin to recall a particular memory but not just any memory – its usually a deeply important memory of an experience that marks and shapes the rest of our lives.

Memories are powerful – be they positive or negative. Recent studies have helped us understand more deeply the lingering impact of our memories. We know now it’s not so easy to forget a particularly bad experience and just move on with life as if ‘it’ never happened.

And then on the positive side our memories can linger long as a source of inspiration, motivation and meaning. It is that kind of experience that to-day’s Feast Day of the Transfiguration recalls and celebrates. Peter, James and his brother John were led to the mountain top by Jesus. They experienced the transfigured Jesus as an exceptional shinning light. They saw him speaking with Elijah and Moses and it was Peter who put words on this moment of revelation “It is good for us to be here”. He wanted this moment to linger so he suggested making tents – dwelling places for Jesus, Elijah and Moses. Just as quickly we’re told they were enshrouded in a cloud from which would come the voice “This is my son, the beloved… Listen to him”.

In fear and awe, they fell on their knees Jesus assured them there was nothing to fear. Then as they returned down the mountain, “he asked them to keep this vision to themselves till the Son of Man had risen from the dead”.

For Peter, James and John what an experience to have had and what a profound memory it left them with. This experience shaped the rest of their lives. It gave them a new understanding of Jesus’ relationship with the Father; the presence of Elijah and Moses enabled them to make the link between Jesus and the entire promise of the Old Testament story of God’s guidance and shepherding of his people. And how they, through their walking with Jesus, were now part of that unfolding of the ways of God for all humanity.

“Memory retrieves what’s worth keeping”

Eileen Casey – Poet

To-day the 6th August is not just the Feast of the Transfiguration but also the anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945 – a memory so terrible that we thought the world would never forget – sadly we continue to live under the threat of the use of nuclear weapons. To-day is also World Youth Day when Pope Francis celebrates the message of the Transfiguration in Lisbon with young people from all over the world. God willing it will be an experience akin to that of Peter, James and John – when like Peter they realise “it is good for us to be here”.

May the experience of Lisbon and the global gathering of young Catholics imprint deep and inspirational memories that will impact how they return to their own place and families.

May they know no fear but rest serene in the joy and hope that flows from placing their lives more firmly on the way of Christ.

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