A sermon on the Transfiguration
Fr. Mike Paraniuk
By Fr. Mike Paraniuk
St. Mary Catholic Church (Hillsboro,
St. Benignus Catholic Church (Greenfield),
Saint Mary Queen of Heaven Catholic Church (Peebles)
Holy Trinity Catholic Church (West Union)
The Transfiguration was the greatest of all spiritual experiences. A spiritual experience is a powerful awareness of God's presence. It's like feeling His love enfolding you in a warm blanket right out of the dryer on a cold day. It feels so good.
I have been with those who have experienced this. It happens to those who are in difficult situations when they ask for God's help or someone who is leaving this world when they will soon see God. The Transfiguration strengthened Jesus who would soon experience a most painful death before seeing His Father in Heaven. This was a miracle given solely for Jesus. The Divinity of the Father brought peace to the Humanity of His Son.
God has blessed me to be with those who have felt the presence of the Divine before leaving this world for the glory of the next. It deepens my awareness that God is present in every person, in every created thing, in every moment of happiness or sorrow, in every sickness and healing, in every moment of trial and triumph. Death itself is a transfiguration when my old mortal body is changed into the joy of my youth.
December 3, 2022 is a day that I witnessed a Transfiguration.
My friend, Buck Wilkin of Wilkin Insurance, was suffering from cancer. The next stop on his journey was Heaven. He lived a good life but not an easy life.
As a child, he woke up one night and went to his mother saying, "I can't feel my legs." Buck got polio after swimming at Lake White in 1952.
He spent many lonely days at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. Hospital rules would allow his mother to visit him for only several hours once a week. This did not stop his grandfather from wrapping little Buck in a blanket and stealing him from the hospital to bring him home for Christmas. Grandpa returned him later that day. Things were sure different back then.
Buck walked with a debilitating limp for the rest of his life. It made him very aware of the sufferings of others. Like the old TV show "The Millionaire," who gave money anonymously to people in need, Buck used me on several occasions to give a large check to families who struggled financially.
He generously gave to people he didn't even know. One Christmas, Buck gave his last $200 to a father so he could get presents for his kids. That's the way Buck was. Always helping the guy down on his luck.
When I visited Buck on that Saturday, I found him lucid, calm and peaceful. He had been in and out of consciousness. I prayed over him. He started to cry and said, "I had to be strong for Mom, so I never allowed myself to cry. Crying feels so good. I should have done this years ago."
Buck shared with me a desire that in the next life he never wanted to be alone.
"I was alone for so long in the hospital," he said. "I never want to be alone again."
After saying this, he paused and looked intently at my priest robe. Buck said, "Your robe. It looks so white and bright. How did you get it so white?"
I didn't know what to say. I blurted out, "Tide soap?"
He kept staring at my robe in amazement. I think God was giving Buck a sign that he would soon be clothed in the robe of glory. I said, "Buck, my white robe is nothing compared to God's Light that will surround you forever. You will never be alone again."
I thought of the Bible verse when the joyful Father was reunited with his son who returned home. "The father said to his servants, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him.'" (Luke 15:22.)
The Father put the finest robe on Buck on Dec. 12, 2022. He received a robe of righteousness for the many acts of generosity and kindness he showed to so many. That is a Transfiguration we should all long for when God will change our weak mortal bodies and make them like his own glorious body. (Phil 3:21.)
One of the last things Buck told me was, "I wonder what it will be like to walk without a limp?"
Now he knows. Blessings to all.