Papal Homilies

Transfiguration (Year A)

Pope Francis

The Kingdom of Heaven

26 July 2020 | Saint Peter’s Square

Transfiguration (Year A)

In our times, as we are all aware, the lives of some people can end up mediocre and dull because they probably do not go in search of a true treasure: they are content with attractive but fleeting things, glittering flashes that prove illusory as they give way to darkness. Instead the light of the Kingdom is not like fireworks, it is light: fireworks last only an instant, whereas the light of the Kingdom accompanies us all our life.

The Kingdom of Heaven is the opposite of the superfluous things that the world offers; it is the opposite of a dull life: it is a treasure that renews life every day and leads it to expand towards wider horizons. Indeed, those who have found this treasure have a creative and inquisitive heart, which does not repeat but rather invents, tracing and setting out on new paths which lead us to love God, to love others, and to truly love ourselves. The sign of those who walk this path of the Kingdom is creativity, always seeking more. And creativity is what takes life and gives life, and gives, and gives, and gives… It always looks for many different ways to give life.

Jesus, who is the hidden treasure and the pearl of great value, cannot but inspire joy, all the joy of the world: the joy of discovering a meaning for one’s life, the joy of feeling committed to the adventure of holiness.

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Worldly Disengagement

06 August 2017 | Saint Peter’s Square

Transfiguration (Year A)

The disciples’ ascent up Mount Tabor leads us to reflect on the importance of disengaging from worldly matters, in order to make a journey toward heaven and to contemplate Jesus. It is a matter of being attentive to the careful and prayerful listening of Christ, the beloved Son of the Father, seeking intimate moments of prayer that allow for the docile and joyful welcoming of the Word of God. In this spiritual ascent, in this disengagement from worldly matters, we are called to rediscover the peaceful and regenerative silence of meditating on the Gospel, on the reading of the Bible, which leads to a destination rich in beauty, splendour and joy. When we meditate in this way, with the Bible in hand, in silence, we begin to feel this interior beauty, this joy that the Word of God engenders in us. In this perspective, the summer season is a providential time to cultivate our task of seeking and encountering the Lord. In this period, students are free of scholastic commitments and many families take their holidays; it is important that in the period of rest and disengagement from daily activities, we can reinforce our strengths of body and soul, by deepening our spiritual journey.

At the end of the stunning experience of the Transfiguration, the disciples came down the mountain (cf. v. 9) with eyes and hearts transfigured by their encounter with the Lord. It is the journey that we too can make. The ever more vibrant rediscovery of Jesus is not the aim in itself, but spurs us to “come down the mountain”, energized by the power of the divine Spirit, so as to decide on new paths of conversion and to constantly witness to charity, as the law of daily life. Transformed by Christ’s presence and by the ardour of his Word, we will be a concrete sign of the invigorating love of God for all our brothers and sisters, especially for those who are suffering, for those who are lonely and neglected, for the sick and for the multitude of men and women who, in different parts of the world, are humiliated by injustice, abuse and violence.

In the Transfiguration, the voice of the heavenly Father is heard saying: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him!” (v. 5). Let us look to Mary, the Virgin of listening, ever ready to welcome and keep in her heart every word of the Divine Son (cf. Lk 2:51).

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Read the Gospel

27 July 2014 | Saint Peter’s Square

Transfiguration (Year A)

This is how it is with the Kingdom of God: those who find it have no doubts, they sense that this is what they have been seeking and waiting for; and this is what fulfills their most authentic aspirations. And it really is like this: those who know Jesus, encounter Him personally, are captivatedattracted by so much goodness, so much truth, so much beauty, and all with great humility and simplicity. To seek Jesus, to find Jesus: this is the great treasure!

Many people, many saints, reading the Gospel with an open heart, have been so struck by Jesus they they convert to Him. Let us think of St Francis of Assisi: he was already a Christian, though a “rosewater” Christian. When he read the Gospel, in that decisive moment of his youth, he encountered Jesus and discovered the Kingdom of God; with this, all his dreams of worldly glory vanished. The Gospel allows you to know the real Jesus, it lets you know the living Jesus; it speaks to your heart and changes your life. And then yes, you leave it all. You can effectively change lifestyles, or continue to do what you did before but you are someone else, you are reborn: you have found what gives meaning, what gives flavour, what gives light to all things, even to toil, even to suffering, and even to death. 

Read the Gospel. Read the Gospel. We have spoken about it, do you remember? To read a passage of the Gospel every day; and to carry a little Gospel with us, in our pocket, in a purse, in some way, to keep it at hand. And there, reading a passage, we will find Jesus. Everything takes on meaning when you find your treasure there, in the Gospel. Jesus calls it “the Kingdom of God”, that is to say, God who reigns in your life, in our life; God who is love, peace and joy in every man and in all men. This is what God wants and it is why Jesus gave himself up to death on the cross, to free us from the power of darkness and to move us to the kingdom of life, of beauty, of goodness and of joy. To read the Gospel is to find Jesus and to have this Christian joy, which is a gift of the Holy Spirit.

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SOURCE: The Holy See Archive at the Vatican Website © Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Pope Benedict XVI

An Understanding Heart

24 July 2011 | Courtyard of the Papal Summer Residence, Castel Gandolfo

Transfiguration (Year A)

Today, in the liturgy, the Old Testament Reading presents to us the figure of King Solomon, the son and successor of David. It presents him at the beginning of his reign, when he was still very young. Solomon inherited a very demanding task and the responsibility that lay heavily on his shoulders was great for a young king. He first of all offered God a solemn sacrifice, “a thousand burnt offerings”, as the Bible says. Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night and promised to grant him what he asked in prayer. And here we see the greatness of Solomon’s soul. He did not ask for a long life, nor wealth, nor the elimination of his enemies; instead he said to the Lord: “Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong” (1 Kings 3:9). And the Lord heard him, so that Solomon became famous throughout the world for his wisdom and his right judgements.

Therefore he prayed God to grant him “an understanding heart”. What do these words mean? We know that the “heart” in the Bible does not only indicate a part of the body, but also the centre of the person, the seat of his intentions and opinions. We might say: the conscience. Thus an “understanding heart” means a conscience that knows how to listen, that is sensitive to the voice of truth and for this reason can discern right from wrong. 

In Solomon’s case, the request was motivated by the responsibility of leading a nation, Israel, the people whom God chose to show the world his plan of salvation. The King of Israel, therefore, had to try always to be in tune with God, listening to his word, in order to guide the people on the paths of the Lord, the path of justice and of peace. 

However, Solomon’s example is valid for every person. Each one of us has a conscience so as to be, in a certain way, “king”, that is, to exercise the great human dignity of acting in accordance with an upright conscience, doing what is right and avoiding wrong. 

The moral conscience presupposes the ability to hear the voice of truth and to be docile to its indications. People who are called to the task of government naturally have a further responsibility and, therefore — as Solomon teaches — are in even greater need of God’s help. Yet each one has his own part to play, in the concrete situation in which he finds himself. An erroneous mentality suggests to us that we ask God for favourable things or conditions; in fact, the true quality of our life and of social life depends on the upright conscience of each one, on the capacity of one and all to recognize right, separating it from wrong and seeking patiently to put it into practice, thereby contributing to justice and to peace.

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SOURCE: The Holy See Archive at the Vatican Website © Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Pope St. John Paul II

Bear Fruit!

23 August 1997 | Saint-Étienne du Mont

Transfiguration (Year A)

The reading of the Gospel of Saint Matthew makes us think back to the parable of the sower. We know the parable, but we can re-read the words of the Gospel over and over again and still find new light. So the sower comes out to sow. As he sows, some seeds fall on the path, some on rocky ground, some among thorns, some finally on good soil, and only these last gave fruit (cf. Mt 13:3-8).

Jesus did not limit himself to presenting us with a parable, he explained it. Let us hear then the explanation of the parable of the sower. The seeds that fell on the path represent those who hear the word of the Kingdom of God but do not understand it. The Evil One comes and takes away what has been sown in their hearts (cf. Mt 13:19). The Evil One often uses this tactic and he tries to prevent the seed from germinating in people’s hearts. This is the first comparison.

The second is the seed fallen on rocky ground. This ground represents the people who hear the word and welcome it immediately with joy, but they do not have roots in them and are inconstant. When tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, they fall away immediately (cf. Mt 13:20-21). What psychological insight in this comparison made by Christ! We know well from our experience and the experience of others the inconstancy of people deprived of the roots which would enable the word to grow!

The third case is the seed fallen among thorns. Christ explains that he is thinking of those who hear the word but who, because of the worries of the world and their attachment to riches, stifle the word so that it does not bear fruit (cf. Mt 13:22).

Finally, the seed fallen on fertile ground represents those who hear the word and understand it, and the word bears fruit in them (cf. Mt 13:23). All of this magnificent parable speaks to us today as it spoke to the listeners of Jesus two thousand years ago. In the course of this world meeting of youth, let us become the fertile ground which receives the Gospel and bears fruit!

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Holy See Homily Notes

Transfiguration (Year A)

Dicastery for the Clergy

Homily Notes

Theme of Readings

Freedom of Choice

One of the characteristics of human beings is freedom of choice. Choice is the theme that unites the liturgical texts through which the Church invites us to reflect on how to live in a more evangelical way. In the Gospel, a man chooses to sell everything he owns to buy the field where he has discovered a buried treasure. Likewise, a merchant sells all he has, to obtain the most precious pearl of all. In the parable of the net it is no longer man who chooses but God, according to the choices that man has made in his life. The second reading speaks of God’s call and man’s subsequent response. The figure of Solomon praying in the first reading shows that it is in prayer where one becomes capable of making the most authentic choices.

P. Antonio Izqeuirdo, L.C., Copyright © Dicastery for the Clergy

Feast of Transfiguration Notes Unavailable

Doctrinal Messages

The Church is the Kingdom of Christ “already present in mystery” (LG 3)

Buying the field means doing away with many things, sometimes things greatly loved and rooted in our life. However, before the reality of the treasure, one does not pay attention to what is being left behind, or allow it to keep a nostalgic presence in one’s heart. Rather, one’s whole attention is focused on the treasure, on the pearl, and thus the soul rejoices. It is the joy of those who value God’s call to Christian faith, to the Catholic Church. It is the joy of those who, through this call and their free response, know that they are the owners of a wonderful treasure that God has given them, and through which God – already now and definitively in heaven – lets them share in his salvation and glory (Rom 8: 30).

P. Antonio Izqeuirdo, L.C., Copyright © Dicastery for the Clergy

Solomon was able to discern God’s will

In his prayer, Solomon was able to discern God’s will, and made an enlightened choice in accordance with his vocation as king of the People of Israel (1 Kings 3:9). It is in prayer where man is able to more fully discover and to choose the pearl of great worth, what is unique and of highest value, Christ and the Church in God’s salvific plan.

P. Antonio Izqeuirdo, L.C., Copyright © Dicastery for the Clergy

Feast of Transfiguration Notes Unavailable

Pastoral Suggestions

A Christian choice

Today’s world offers Christians the possibility to choose among many attractive and seductive realities, at least to the sight and the pocket. An enormous disgrace weighing heavily on man is the deceit and illusion of believing that there is a treasure in a field where there actually is none, or dreaming of a treasure that does not exist, valuing as a fine pearl what is only tinsel. With time comes disappointment and frustration. Who will guide people in the quest for the real treasure?

Many Christians, perhaps many faithful of our parish, need to appreciate on their own or with someone else’s help, the invaluable treasure of Christ and the Church in which this treasure is hidden. They own it as if it were an inheritance, like an ancient painting decorating one of the walls in their house. The painting is there, but it’s value goes unnoticed. It must be chosen. But how will they choose Christ if he is not a treasure for them, if he is not the supreme value of their existence? How are they going to love the Church and to work in the Church, without knowing that it is in the Church where one finds Christ? It is urgently necessary for Christianity to be an inheritance that is appreciated and chosen, so as to fill one’s life with joy.

The meaning of vocation. An effort must be made to broaden the concept of vocation in people’s minds. There is a vocation to life, a vocation to marriage, a vocation to priesthood or to consecrated life, a vocation to lay apostolate, a vocation to heaven, etc. In essence, it is important for an individual “to feel called, ” to feel that he has been chosen. Human life, and in a deeper way Christian life, is a dialogue of freedom between God and man: God calls and man responds. God calls us to human and Christian fulfillment. Each person must respond to this call, and this response determines one’s history and destiny. Living ordinary life from the perspective of vocation provides a new perspective on one’s existence. Making the small concrete everyday decisions as responses to a God who calls us, helps us to make our decisions with greater responsibility and also gives great value to the exercise of our freedom in minor everyday matters.

P. Antonio Izqeuirdo, L.C., Copyright © Dicastery for the Clergy

The invaluable treasure of Christ and the Church

Many Christians, perhaps many faithful of our parish, need to appreciate on their own or with someone else’s help, the invaluable treasure of Christ and the Church in which this treasure is hidden. They own it as if it were an inheritance, like an ancient painting decorating one of the walls in their house. The painting is there, but it’s value goes unnoticed. It must be chosen. But how will they choose Christ if he is not a treasure for them, if he is not the supreme value of their existence? How are they going to love the Church and to work in the Church, without knowing that it is in the Church where one finds Christ? It is urgently necessary for Christianity to be an inheritance that is appreciated and chosen, so as to fill one’s life with joy.

P. Antonio Izqeuirdo, L.C., Copyright © Dicastery for the Clergy

The meaning of vocation

An effort must be made to broaden the concept of vocation in people’s minds. There is a vocation to life, a vocation to marriage, a vocation to priesthood or to consecrated life, a vocation to lay apostolate, a vocation to heaven, etc. In essence, it is important for an individual “to feel called, ” to feel that he has been chosen. Human life, and in a deeper way Christian life, is a dialogue of freedom between God and man: God calls and man responds. God calls us to human and Christian fulfillment. Each person must respond to this call, and this response determines one’s history and destiny. Living ordinary life from the perspective of vocation provides a new perspective on one’s existence. Making the small concrete everyday decisions as responses to a God who calls us, helps us to make our decisions with greater responsibility and also gives great value to the exercise of our freedom in minor everyday matters.

P. Antonio Izqeuirdo, L.C., Copyright © Dicastery for the Clergy

Feast of Transfiguration Notes Unavailable


SOURCE: The Holy See Archive at the Vatican Website © Libreria Editrice Vaticana