REV. FR. RANNIE Orsolino, as one of the reliable guest priests we request to preside our Mass) is never late, and when he emerged at the sacristy of the Holy Spirit Parish, his apology was all over himself it was no longer necessary to voice it. Yet he did verbalize it and repeated his sorriness at the ambo before he began his homily.
Like he always does, he preambled it with a joke. Which had to do with golden anniversaries. Where an old couple was celebrating theirs with friends. The husband, happily intoxicated, raised his glass and offered a toast saying, “To my wife, who is tried and true!” The wife, a little hard of hearing, raised her own glass and announced, “To my husband, I am tired of you, too!”
We all get tired, said Fr. Rannie, especially the senior citizens in his story, but of toil, trials and tribulations, which are physically reasonable and understandable. But we should never get tired of communicating with God. Abram, before he became Abraham through his undying faith even if it meant sacrificing his son Isaac, was an upright man ever since. And God was true to him, giving his as-many-as-the-stars descendants, in spite of their four hundred-year cruel treatment as slaves, a covenant that lived until Sarah gave him Isaac in his old age. Because Abraham trusted God and kept that conviction to his death.
So we should, like Paul urged the Philippians, imitate Christ and not be enemies of His cross. They are headed for ruin because they only think of earthly things. Like we do of the latest technological gizmos so much so that we seem lost when we leave home without our cell phone.
The transfiguration of Jesus tells us that we can be capable of change. From being worldly to being bound by Christ. In the mountain, where He prayed, while Peter, John and James slept, Jesus’ face altered and his clothing changed into a dazzling whiteness. Moses and Elijah were talking with Him about His departure from earth. As the two men were leaving, Peter awoke and – not knowing what to say – said it was good to be there and to build three tents for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. The disciples saw Jesus transfigure and all Peter could say was it was good to be there – sleeping – and thought it a brilliant idea to build tents! O ye of little faith indeed! Fr. Rannie said the transfiguration aimed to prepare us for His coming passion by strengthening our faith. It also declared three truths: Christ is the Father’s Son, in Whom He is pleased; He is the Light that lights and enlightens; and the King of Heaven, a King that is willing to die in order that flagging spirits may live.
It told Peter, even if he didn’t get the point, that we don’t need to build structures to put Jesus in, if we see His light and keep it in our heart, the only vessel worthy for Christ to indwell.
Fr. Rannie’s parting shot was, we may be praying constantly for change and become weary that it is taking time (Abraham’s deliverance took a spell yet he took it well). It is probably because we are praying not for ourselves but for others to change according to our wishes. It is a prayer that will not bear fruit because it is preempting people to talk to God about their problems, which may be our concern but never enough reason for us to tell even God about because the preemption is not only contrary to but also usurping the free will that God gave us all. The least we can do is intercede that their situation improve not according to our perception but in accordance with how praying should be said. Not from the mouth. But from the heart.
Like his second nature, he thanked the congregation before the final blessing but warned not to applaud (apologizing for his funny, celebratory joke) because it is Lent (subtly hinting that the applause might be misconstrued as in response to his benediction and not towards God). And so the faithful followed and were blessed.
As my turn came to be blessed by his hand, I told him he was late but his homily was early, timely and touched me where it mattered – home – where my heart is.
Abraham de la Torre