18th Sunday Ordinary Time B

Put on the new man

Francis of Assisi was the son of a prosperous cloth merchant. As a young man he had money to spare, and was a great party-goer. Then God started working on him. Bit by bit, Francis became more prayerful, more interested in the needy. Then Christ spoke to him from a crucifix that hung in the little church of San Damiano. “Rebuild my church,” said the Lord. In his joy Francis, taking the command literally, ran back home, grabbed many bolts of goods from his father’s shop, sold them, and took the money as a gift to the priest of the half-ruined San Damiano Church. The priest was leery about accepting the money – as well he might be – so Francis impulsively tossed the purse out of the window.

Francis’ father, Pietra Bernardone, had been away during this escapade of misguided charity. When he returned and heard of it, he was furious. He couldn’t understand his son’s goings-on of late and he was out the money value of the goods Francis had sold. Therefore, he beat up Francis and locked him in the cellar. Francis’ mother eventually let him out, but when Papa Pietro got back from another business trip, he had the city authorities call Francis on the carpet. Francis answered he was now a servant of God alone and no longer subject to the city fathers. So Pietro, still embarrassed and thirsting for revenge, hauled him before the Bishop of Assisi and publicly charged him with robbery. The bishop advised Francis to pick up the purse where he had thrown it and return it to his parent.

Francis told the bishop that he would gladly give back not only the money but all else he had received from his father. So then and there he doffed his clothes and put them in Pietro’s hands. “From now on,” he said, I will say “Our Father who art in heaven, and not Father Pietro Bernardone.” Thereafter, the little saint-to-be wore only a coarse tunic, the symbol of his commitment to absolute poverty. Thus he fulfilled the words of St. Paul addressed to us all: “Put on that new man created in God’s image, whose justice and holiness are born of truth.” (Ephesians 4:24. Today’s second reading.)

-Father Robert F. McNamara


Q383: The “Transfiguration” story (MK 9:2-10) is so awesome; how can we find something in it to apply to our own lives?

Let’s look at this story in two ways. First, it relates the public manifestation of the divine glory of Jesus – both in his own physical “transformation” and similarly in the dazzling white clothes. He is the Son of God. This is followed by a voice from heaven, the voice of the heavenly Father, who confirms that revelation.

A second way is to see what Jesus did with that knowledge of his divine Sonship. One prominent thing he did not do was remain aloof with a holier-than-thou attitude. Instead, we see him entering into our brokenness, treating everyone as a beloved brother or sister, and sharing our sorrows and our joys. And all the while he showed us the way out of our brokenness – teaching us the way of repentance, justice for all, forgiveness without strings, and unqualified love for everyone.

That is one of the messages of the Transfiguration for me. I see a “sneak preview” of the glory that Jesus wants to share with us in eternity. And one of the ways to that glory is to have my life transformed in this world.

That is also the message, promise and responsibility that flows from our Baptism, isn’t it? So the story of the Transfiguration reminds us of our life of Faith, expressed ritually in our sacramental celebrations called Baptism and Confirmation, and renewed daily with the transforming power of Holy Eucharist that makes us more and more like Him. Then we are “sent” (ite missa est – `Go, you are sent’) to take Jesus with us, and enter into and share our neighbor’s brokenness, recognizing each person we meet as my brother or sister in Christ, and treating him or her accordingly.

KNOW YOUR CATECHISM! Jesus reveals his divine glory, as the presence of the Holy Trinity is manifested (CCC #555). Thomas Aquinas calls the Transfiguration the sacrament of our own resurrection: a sign or preview that we will be sharing in his glory (CCC #556). It strengthens our faith as we enter into the mystery of His Passion (CCC #568) by sharing the brokenness of others (service, diakonia).


The Lord Gave them Bread from Heaven
How quickly we sometimes forget someone who has been good to us. We seem to take it for granted that we deserve it. It is similar in our relationship with God. Miracles and wonders do not necessarily lead to faith. The people of Israel had been delivered from Egypt by great signs and wonders, but here they are in the desert complaining that they do not have enough to eat, because each day they were to gather only enough manna for the day. They didn’t trust in God’s continuing care for them. Jesus too found that miracles do not produce faith. He had just fed more than 5,000 people with twelve loaves of bread but people asked him for a sign like the manna God had given them in the desert. Jesus tells them that he is the bread sent from heaven, the bread of eternal life, a bread that relieves the hunger for eternal life, for friendship, and fidelity. We too must learn to trust in Jesus from day to day, knowing that what ever happens, he will be with us.

Lord give us our daily bread from heaven. Never let us forget your generous goodness in caring for us. Let us never stop looking to you with gratitude and fidelity.

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