12 March 2006: The 2nd Sunday of Lent
Mark 9, 2-10: The Transfiguration
We see in the Gospel today about the Transfiguration one of the greatest hinges in Jesus’ life. The event when He sets out to
So Jesus went up to the mountain to pray. Mountains are believed to be the nearest place to God; a place when one meets God’s greatest men and women. Here Moses and Elijah, two great men of the Old Testament appear in dazzling white. Luke suggests that the Transfiguration was a fruit of Jesus’ prayer. And like anything very important that happens, prayer precedes it.
My first point: Prayer transfigures us; awakens us about who we are. It is during his prayer that Jesus is transfigured. Likewise, saints have often transfigured in their prayer and adoration. This is not surprising. Prayer is an encounter with the Father, it configures us to him, at least spiritually if not physically, as in the case of Jesus and the saints. If we remain faithful in prayer, it is certain that God will communicate to us already in this life something of his peace, of his joy and of his love.
My second point: Life has full of things than awakens us.
- There is sorrow. There was a singer from this Star Search. She was technically perfect, but without feeling and expression. Walang kalatuy-latuy. And someone remarked, “She will be great when someone breaks her heart.”
- There is love. There was a man and a woman who fell in love. One looked at the other, and the other looked at him. They fell in love, and suddenly life was filled with color and newness. Love awakens him to the beauty of Life and Love.
- There is the sense of need. For long enough can we move in life like someone half asleep. But when we are suddenly beset by problems, or with quite a very unsettling question, or with some overmastering temptation, or with some sickness and a rare disease, and there is nothing that we can do, we cry and cling to God. That problem awakens him to God. That problem makes him what he is --- a child of God totally dependent on his Father.
My final point: All that enables us to be transfigured --- prayer, sorrow, love, the sense of need ---- should enable us to face our Jerusalems, our crosses and our sufferings in ordinary life. After the Transfiguration, the disciples once again found Jesus in his ordinary appearance, and normal life resumed its course. And only after the Resurrection did they again see Jesus in his glory. For us too, after great consolations, after beautiful liturgical celebrations, after uplifting retreats and prayer sessions which fill us with fervor, we find once again the grayness of ordinary life.
I believe it is not accidental that Filipinos love pictures. Any event --- birthdays, outings, deaths --- merits a camera and a flash. I believe we do not just collect photographs, but we collect memories that transfigure us. A picture of a father and a son reminds the son of being a “his father’s child”. A picture of a family reminds a daughter of what she is, a child of two wonderful parents, and a sister to her siblings. A picture of two friends, reminds one of what he is: a friend of another. Filipinos collect memories. It is not surprising that those who works abroad holds a picture of their families close to their heart. It is that same picture that becomes the source of strength in their loneliest night or in their harshest jobs. They are memories that transfigures.
So what transfigures you? What are the events that inspire or build you up? What are the things that strengthen you? If we persevere in Jesus’ company despite the crosses we may encounter on the way, then we will assuredly find Jesus once more some day, and this is an intimacy far more fulfilling than the one we sometimes experience on earth. For then, we will see him without any veil, as he is. Then we too will undergo a transfiguration which will last all through eternity. These events will enable you to face the future with much courage, and with the greatest hope.
*photo by Neo Saicon SJ