Fr. Joe's Letter

Fr. Joe’s Letter

Aug 2, 2023

Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord and since it is a Solemnity it takes precedence over the 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time. We hear in the gospel today that Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up to Mt. Tabor and there He shows them His glory as God in and through His human body. The glory of God is revealed in the humanity of Jesus Christ and He is seen, as He truly is, God incarnate.  This major event in our faith tells us something particularly important about Jesus and about ourselves. It tells us that Jesus really is God and that He has become one of us because He loves us and wants to be with us always. It also tells us that God reveals Himself through our humanity. In our human bodies, God reveals so much of what He is all about and why He created us. The human body is the centerpiece of God’s creation. In the human body, God reveals His plan for our salvation because He became a human being in order to save us.

In the human body, God also reveals much about the relationship between Him and us. He made man male and female to reveal to us the kind of relationship we are called to have with Him. It is not a physical relationship, but one that uses the physical in order to reveal the spiritual or mystical relationship we are to have with God in His Kingdom. It is a relationship based on self-giving love, the love that Jesus shows us by laying down His life for us in His death on the cross. Then, by rising from the dead, He also lifts us up and again restores to us the dignity we had when God created Adam and Eve.

As we celebrate this Feast of the Transfiguration, we can take some time to reflect on the wonderful gift that God has given us in our human body. It is a gift that, like all of God’s gifts, is meant to give Him glory and bring us closer to Him and to one another.  The world we live in has a great need to realize this truth more and more in the Sacrament of Marriage, in our human sexuality, and in our relationship with others in our lives.  St. John Paul II shared with us a special treasure in his Theology of the Body to help us do just that.

The Transfiguration can help us to see the glory that God intended for all of us to have in our human bodies.  For hundreds of years many have thought that the soul and the body are more or less opposed to each other, that the soul is the good part of us and the body is the bad part that can bring down the soul. This dualism has long been the source of many heresies within the Church.   The fact of the matter is that God created us as one.  The body and soul are one and Jesus died and rose to redeem both.  Even tough death separates the body and soul for a while eventually there will be the resurrection of the dead and our bodies and souls will live together with God in the kingdom of heaven as long as we have followed Him and lived by His command to love.

This is at the heart of our belief in the sacredness of human life from the moment of conception to natural death.  This is why abortion, assisted suicide, or anything that takes the life of another human is so very wrong.  God teaches us that we are not to kill anyone least of all a defenseless child in the womb.  We must do everything in our power to protect the life of others, the life that God gave them as a precious gift.

The command that God gives us to protect all human life is something we must take very seriously.  This command to love must touch every aspect of our lives.  The way we treat others, the way we talk to them, and the way we talk about any of God’s children.  This command must even affect the way we vote.  We can express our love and respect for God’s gift of life in how we vote on certain issues.  On Tuesday there will be a special election on Issue One.  If this issue passes, it will make it a little more difficult for anyone to change our Ohio State Constitution.  It seems to me that the people who most oppose the passing of this issue are those who would like to make abortion a part of our state constitution up to birth, would like to remove any parental involvement concerning an underage young girl getting an abortion, as well as parental consent for minors to have any kind of gender transitioning treatments which would include “sex changing” surgeries.  These are great offenses against God’s love for us and the love He calls us to have for one another.  Please vote on Tuesday and vote prayerfully and carefully.  Make sure the way you vote is really in line with God’s command to love putting the needs of others first as well as what is good for our society.  Please see the insert in today’s bulletin for more information.


Today we want to begin reflecting on the structure of the prayer, the petitions of the Our Father.

The first three petitions concern God firectly: thy name; thy kingdom; thy will.  The final four petitions concern our deepest needs in this present life and commend our wretchedness to his mercy: give us; forgive us; lead us not; deliver us [see CCC 2804-2805].  If we are to enter the true spirit of the first three petitions, we must allow the “burning desire, even anguish” of the Son for his Father’s glory to seize us.  The final four petitions exemplify the cry of the heart in Psalm 42:  “Deep calls to deep” [see CCC 2803].

The first petition, “Hallowed Be Thy Name.”  To “hallow” God’s name is to recognize God’s holiness.  This line of the prayer, however, is not a declaration but a petition.  In other words, we are not declaring to God that we recognize the holiness of his name.  Rather, we are acknowledging that we [and the whole world] don’t recognize the holiness of his name and we need to.

The second petition, “Thy kingdom come.”  This petition refers primarily to the coming of Christ in glory.  It is “the cry of the Spirit and the Bride, ‘Come, Lord Jesus’” that we hear in the Book of Revelation.  It’s a cry of longing, a cry of hope for the fulfillment of all things in the consummation of the Marriage of the Lamb.  The Church longs to be united with Christ, her Bridegroom, in the glory of heaven where she will rejoice one day with [her] Beloved, in a happiness and rapture that can never end.

The third petition, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”  This petition is a prayer that “earth no longer differ from heaven.”  This petition is fulfilled and lived out perfectly in Mary’s “fiat”:  “Let it be done unto me according to your word.”  In this petition, we ask our Father to unite our will to his Son’s, in order to fulfill his will, his plan of salvation for the life of the world.  We are radically incapable of this, but united with Jesus and with the power of his Holy Spirit, we can surrender our will to him and decide to choose what his Son has always chosen: to do what is pleasing to the Father.

Fr. Joe Labak