I think it’s very important for us to realize that we are not at home in this world, wherever we are. We are always travelers until we reach heaven, which is our true home. I remember on the last day of my dad’s life, almost ten years ago now, he kept looking at his watch and saying, “It’s almost time to go home.” We kept telling him he couldn’t go home, because he was too sick. But later that day when we were talking, we realized what he really meant. He was on his way to his true home, our true home, that place we all want to go one day.
Jesus gave Peter, James and John a glimpse of that in today’s Gospel. On seeing the vision, I think Peter realized that there was something like that going on here. He wanted to build tents, to keep Moses and Elijah there and make that their home. But he really was babbling, because, quite understandably, he didn’t know what to make of it all.
What they were getting, in a way, is a glimpse of heaven. Jesus appearing with Moses, the giver of the Law, and Elijah, the epitome of Old Testament Prophets. It’s Jesus himself who brings the Law to fulfillment, and Jesus himself who is the fulfillment of all the prophets’ messages. They appeared in a dazzling vision that revealed what Jesus’ resurrected body would be like. It was obviously different and glorious, and had the disciples stunned.
As they come down the mountain, Jesus tells them to keep the vision under wraps until he has risen from the dead. That’s because no one, not even Peter, James and John, would understand what it was about until they had actually seen Jesus risen and glorified. Then they could have that “aha!” moment and realize that there is something more than just this life here on earth.
So in these days of Lent, it is well for us to remember that there is more to life than just what we see here. So the task is to live our lives like we’re going to heaven. Because that’s what we want. Yes, we will have to take up the cross to get there. Yes, we will have to venture into unknown territory like Abram. But if we ever want to get to the joys of heaven, we have to be willing to brave the unknown and endure the cross and go wherever it is God takes us.
Sadly, this year, God is taking me somewhere too. My term as pastor is up this summer, and I had hoped to be reassigned here. But last Saturday, Bishop Conlon called to ask me to take a new assignment. I didn’t want to, and I was praying about it all last weekend, but when I remembered my Ordination promises and when I actually listened to my own words preaching last weekend, I knew my answer had to be yes.
So this June, I will become the new pastor of Saint Mary Immaculate Parish in Plainfield, which is the largest parish in our diocese, over five times bigger than Notre Dame. I can hardly wrap my mind around that, so I would ask your prayers. Transition may be God’s will, but it’s never easy.
This weekend, the diocese will invite my brother priests to apply to be pastor of Notre Dame, and in the coming weeks, Bishop Conlon and the personnel board will make decisions about our parish and the other openings in the diocese. I have been assured that Notre Dame will be taken care of. I will let you know when I hear of the appointment, but now would be a good time to begin praying for your new pastor too.
There will be time in the coming months for goodbyes and thanksgiving, but I want to assure you that being your pastor has been one of the greatest experiences of my life, and I’ll never forget you. I am grateful for all that you have done for me, and all of your prayers for me each day. Please be assured of mine for you. Our prayer today could be the prayer of the Psalmist: “Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.”