Genesis 12:1-4a; Ps 33:4-5, 18-20, 22; 2 Timothy 1:8b-10; Matthew 17:1-9
Jesus is gathering more and more followers across the world. he is telling them that he has opened up a “new fountain of living water,“ as he told the woman at the well in John 4:13-15. He is calling us to come with him to a new Mount of Transfiguration as in today’s gospel. He wants to baptize us in his Holy Spirit to open our minds to know who he is and what he is doing in these days. Then he fills our hearts with more of his awesome love and empowers us to go out and tell others his good news.
In Matthew 17 today, Jesus took his closest three friends, Peter, James and John, alone up a mountain. There he revealed himself in some of his glory before his resurrection from the dead. He was giving them the insight and grace to be able to endure what would happen around Christ’s arrest, trial, scourging, crucifixion and ultimately his resurrection from the dead. Moses and Elijah appeared talking with Jesus. This showed his friends Bible connections that he is the New Adam and New Moses to fulfill Yahweh’s covenants and promises in the Old Testament. A bright cloud overshadowed them and God, our Father, spoke saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.” At this glorious experience, the apostles fell prostrate and were afraid. Then Jesus touched them saying: “Rise and do not be afraid.”
Mount Tabor experience
As they were coming down the mountain Jesus told them: “Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” In these days God is calling many of his children across the world to their own Mt. Tabor experience. This same kind of God experience happened to Moses and three companions on a mountain. God blessed them, to bless the Jewish people and throughout the world, in Exodus 24:34. As we grow in our faith commitment we have moments of a God experience. God reveals new things to us and sends us out to bless others.
Fifty years ago on a Duquesne University retreat north of Pittsburgh, Pa, some students and faculty had a life-changing experience on February 17-19, 1967. Jesus baptized them in his Holy Spirit. They experienced a new Pentecost with new understanding and zeal to tell others. The Holy Spirit set them on fire. They told their friends at other universities. Their enthusiasm spread around the world. And around 150 million Catholics and others in the last 50 years have experienced a transformed faith.
On Wednesday afternoons a group of priests from three dioceses meet regularly in the chapel of The Ark and The Dove Retreat Center to praise God, fellowship and seek what God wants next. Now Jesus tells us not to look to what he has done in the past. Look rather to what he wants to do now. Recently God said he was opening up a new fountain of living water from that little chapel. The Holy Spirit will bring many people there and set them on fire. They are to go out like “burning torches” and form little “fire groups.” In these groups, God wants to work many healings and miracles.
St. Patrick of Ireland
Friday we celebrate St. Patrick of Ireland. He and many others converted the entire pagan island to Jesus Christ and not one drop of blood was spilled. I have a prayerful sense that, if you are open and desire more of God that he wants to baptize all of you who are reading this message. So I pray over you and extend my hands over you to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. You probably will not see flashing lights. Yet you will have a greater understanding of our holy faith, a new enthusiasm and may begin to speak in entirely new languages you never learned nor heard before. Do not be afraid.
What can you do more? Go to daily Mass more and pray. Ask God what he want to give you and how are you to share it. Pray the “Shorter Christian Prayer.” It gives you a daily Biblical format. Join a charismatic prayer group to learn more how to function with God’s power today. Great joy will fill you.
Dear friends, let us utter St. Paul’s words and thank God for his forgiveness of our past sins and failings. Let us rush into the open arms of our risen Savior. Jesus, please forgive us and fill us with all you have for us so we can be your bright light around the world and God’s fire of love spreads around the world.
For all of you on St. Patrick’s Day, here is more than the “luck of the Irish.”
“May God in his wisdom and infinite love
set you on fire from heaven above.
May he send you good fortune, contentment and peace.
And may all your blessings forever increase,”
I pray in Jesus Name,
+ Fr. Bob Hilz, TOR
(© 2017 Fr. Bob Hilz, TOR)