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Saturday, February 21, 2009

St. Peter Damian

Peter was raised by his brother, Damian, a priest in Ravenna, after their parents died. In gratitude, Peter called himself Peter Damian; he became a hermit monk in 1035. He was chosen as abbot in 1043 and appointed Cardinal bishop of Ostia in 1057. He was a zealous reformer of the clergy. Later he received permission from the Pope to return to the monastery.
The Gospel today is one of my favorite, the Transfiguration of Jesus. Mark tells us how Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. "And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus."
Imagine the impression this made on the three chosen Apostles who witnessed this. Peter wants to stay there and even blurts out, "Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."
Mark tells us that he hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. I suspect "awed" would be the better word, but they really were terrified.
"Then, a cloud came casting a shadow over them; then from the cloud came a voice, 'This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.'" The voice of the Father comes from the cloud as it did at the Baptism of Jesus. The Father is not only affirming that Jesus is his beloved Son, but telling us to listen to him.
I often think that this phrase is one that calls us to pray without words but with a listening heart. This was a special moment for both Jesus and for the three invited to be with him to witness his moment of transfiguration. It is a moment that will strengthen them for the suffering and death that is to follow.
The Gospel tells us that "Suddenly, looking around, the disciples no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them."
Jesus is always with us; let us listen to him today!
At a homily on Thursday, we were asked by Jesus to say who each of us thought he was for us: "But you, who do you say that I am?" The priest suggested several answers but what stayed with me was, "You are Jesus, the one who is always with me; you are within me, loving me."

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