Skip to content

The 'I' Word

By Fr. Robert J. Carr
©Catholic Online 2005

If we look carefully at today's gospel, the Transfiguration Story, we can see an important dynamic at play. Let's look at the scene. Jesus in a glorified state is meeting with the Moses and Elijah. St. John Chrysostom reminds us that many attacked Jesus for not being obedient to the Jewish Tradition found in the Law and the prophets. Yet, here he is receiving encouragement and support from those seen as representing God's law (Moses) and his Prophets (Elijah). Clearly turning those criticisms on their heads.

This is also a unique time, this stage of glorification precedes his final days of ministry unto his death. This also brings forth another principle: When we feel those times most closest to God, we should enjoy them and prepare to enter a difficult struggle. Often times, one precedes the other. Therefore, when we go through difficult times and say to ourselves that we no longer feel closer to God as we did before, this is more normal than not. We may also find that the difficult time we experience may be more survivable due to that powerful reminder before of God's presence.

I will not tell you what I went through in March of 2001 while on a desert retreat in Colorado, but it was the most powerful experience of the Lord I ever had and look at what it preceded.


Yet, these principles are important, but equally as important is what we see in the placement of simply one word in this whole gospel. The word is "I". Here is Peter surrounded by experiences of glory far beyond what he could imagine. What is his response? If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."

Already Peter is making plans of how we can expand the mission of Christ during this time. He has it all figured out and like a man proposing a project to an investor he starts with his idea.

Look, we can have people meet Moses and Elijah; you can introduce them. Finally, people will come to know the truth, they will know who you are and all will be well.

If you really want to extend the characterization, imagine a cigar in his mouth and his arm around Jesus, saying "This will be big, really big, just stick with me Jesus and you'll be the biggest thing since Solomon."

However, he does not even get that far. Suddenly, they are all humbled before the Lord. They fall prostrate to the ground and the Father speaks. "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him." Not only is the whole episode over, but Jesus even tells them to say nothing about it.

I am sure Peter was still in a state of shock as were James and John in the midst of this. Yet, not only must they remain silent, Peter's plans have come to naught. Why?


Peter does something that we all do. He has it all planned out what God needs at this time. He finds out, however, that God's plans are not only beyond his, they are beyond his ability to comprehend. How did they know that Jesus plans involved not his glorification on a mountain, but his total humiliation on another one? We in our human mind cannot always discern the will of God, because God's ways are not our ways and God's thoughts are not our thoughts.

Peter, James and John prostrate themselves humbly before the Lord; it is only then that they come to get an inkling of just how ignorant they are to the deeper truths. Jesus, little do they know, prepares them for not only the painful events of the following week, but also the rest of their lives. Things were never the same once they responded to Jesus' call. However, things will never be the same once they witness Jesus' death and resurrection. From that point on, they will, in the most humbling of times, have to listen to the Holy Spirit. These men will learn and teach truths that they never imagined when they were just fishermen and met some preacher named Yeshua BarJonah. They had no idea just what was waiting for them. All their plans and ideas fall into inadequacy in light of what truly is coming in their future.

Yet, how many of us can resonate with Peter. Indeed, there is a whole fallen TV ministry that was centered on that principle. I have mentioned it before. The preachers talked about all the great things that Jesus wanted. The ministry fell. The minister went to jail and began reading the bible for the first time. There he learned what Jesus truly wanted. He had all along been presumptive.


Peter is the same one who tells Jesus that he must not die on the cross. He is the same one who tells Jesus what can be done. Yet, once he is humbled before the Lord, the door opens for him to begin to see what Jesus wants. He can close the door to his own leadership and now humbly bow before the leadership of Jesus and the Holy Spirit all from the Father. Yet, you and I run the risk of the same thing, if we are not humble before the Lord. We risk telling God what we believe needs to be done. The problem is when we are talking like that, we are not in the listening mode and we never hear what Jesus is saying. We are like Peter ready to build the booths and never getting what it is that Jesus wants of us, until we are humbled before the Lord.

Yet, this happens all the time. How often in our own world are we like Peter in our ability to plan big things for the Lord, while closing him out at the same time. How often do we actually listen to what the spirit is calling us to do? Or are we shutting out his voice because we know better than God? Peter did not have a bad idea, but his plans were woefully less what Christ was planning. Yet, Peter had not even the ability to get a clue about what was coming down the pike. I am sure he was looking back at this and thinking of how naďve he was on the mountain.


One of the greatest problems facing our Church today is rationalism. Rationalism basically says that our faith is slave to our reason. Catholic tradition says they work together. If we make our faith slave to our reason, we blind ourselves to the work of God. We turn to God in all his glory and say, "If you want I will do great things for you." Never once do we hear him say those words to us, so we never hear God's words. When we really fall down that path, then we say it not to God, but to each other. This is the occupational hazard of the University.

A true rationalist laughs at the concept of the resurrection. He says it is impossible because it does not fit into the concept of how the world should work. That is exactly what Peter does. He thinks in a mindset unable to be open to the work of God outside normal means. That is until he with James and John falls prostrate on the ground and realizes just how inadequate is his form of thinking. When a rationalist is confronted with those things beyond explanation he gives it a quick explanation and then dismisses the whole enterprise. He just can't get beyond his own thinking.

A true rationalist will explain away miracles inadequately, manifestations of the spirit or even of negative spirits inadequately and any other manifestation of God. A rationalist cannot experience Jesus in the Eucharist because he may see physically, but is blind spiritually.

If we want to ask what is next for the Archdiocese of Boston, we need to fall prostrate before the Lord and allow the Lord to lead us. Otherwise, we will build one disastrous contraption after another until the whole enterprise falls and kills us all. Mother Teresa used to say, "Explain your plans to God and watch him laugh." It has yet to be determined whether Jesus laughed at the suggestion that Peter had made. However, I am sure long after Peter learned the true plans of God, he must have had a great laugh for himself at his own expense.


Catholicism Anew MA, US
Fr. Robert J. Carr - Priest, 617 542-5682



Rationalism, Transfiguration

More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.