Pastor's Desk Notes

February 25, 2024

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

“Lord, it is good that we are here.” Overwhelmed by the glory of the transfigured Jesus, shocked by the presence of Moses and Elijah, St. Peter utters these words in the Gospel we read today in the hope of remaining on the mountain for a while longer. While the moment of the Transfiguration will pass and things will seem to go back to normal, the short-lived glory that Peter, James, and John were privileged to witness would become a sign and a prefiguration of what was to come. Jesus is transfigured so that the Apostles can be confident in the time after His death on the cross that, indeed, He will be raised as He promised. So it is good that the Apostles are there, for their witnessing of the glory of the Lord will help them later, when they are called upon to strengthen their brothers in hope.

But those words, “it is good that we are here,” ring true for us today, as well. It is good that we are here, in this Lenten season. It is good that we have this time dedicated to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, because it is through this holy season and the disciplines that accompany it that we are able to reorder our lives. The discipline of Lent has an immediate purpose – the fast of this time allows me to offer myself to God here and now. The Transfiguration had a present-moment purpose, as it confirmed for the Apostles the true identity of Jesus. It also had a future-oriented purpose, as it prepared them for the Passion and Resurrection of the Lord. Just so, our Lenten discipline both helps us now, and prepares us for that future time when, faced with temptation, difficulty, or spiritual doubts, we will need the skills these forty days teach us to help us on our way. And so it is truly good that we are here on this Lenten journey. It is good that we are embracing the disciplines of Lent. And it is good that, as we enter more deeply into this season, we are here with Jesus. For our Lord who went into the desert for us, has invited us to come with Him there. He has invited us up the mountain with Him. It is good that we are here.

The next part of the Gospel story is important, though we will not read it today. Immediately after the Transfiguration, Jesus returns down the mountain with Peter, James, and John. There, they find the remaining Apostles trying to cast a demon out of a boy and having no success. The boy’s father makes the humble prayer “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief,” and at that supplication, Jesus casts the demon out, healing the boy. The Apostles ask why they could not exorcise in this situation, and Jesus tells them that this particular kind of demon can only be cast out by prayer and fasting. This episode teaches us that, while some kinds of healing can happen simply by the authority of the name of Jesus, there are some healings that will take place only by our perseverance in prayer and in discipline. So it is good that we are here, in Lent. For Lent teaches us those disciplines of prayer and fasting that will help us to find the healing that Jesus desires for us to receive. Virtue is the habit of choosing to do what is good. Prayer and fasting help me to choose, habitually, to do the good. The only way to cast out the demon of sin is the consistency and habit of penance, the prayer and fasting which these forty days call us to live. It is good that we are here. We are not meant to live a constant Lent, but we need the lessons from Lent every year, for our prayer, fasting, and almsgiving give us the tools we will need to be strong in the face of temptation, to strengthen our brethren in faith, and to uproot sin whenever and wherever it crops up in our lives. It is good that we are here.


Fr. Sam