17 February 2008 2nd Sunday of Lent
Matthew 17, 1-9: The Transfiguration
In the Season of Lent, the Transfiguration prepares us for the glorious celebration of Easter. First, it is a moment of putting our hearts in order. We know that after the Transfiguration, Jesus sets His heart on course to Jerusalem. It would be His journey to the city where He would be betrayed by His closest friends, where He would suffer and eventually die. However, it would be a necessary step towards our salvation.
There are many moments when we share the experience of the Transfiguration; moments when we set our hearts on a specific course or decide on a particular life direction. The important aspect of this choice is the awareness of a necessary pain as an indispensable consequence. When we resolve to finally exercise for our health, we know we would have to endure muscle soreness. When we decide to leave our homes to pursue our studies in the city, we know we have to let go of the comfort of family and friends. When we make a commitment with someone, we know that we would be hurt by the very person to whom we have given our hearts. When we become determined to work abroad, we know that we will bear loneliness and homesickness. There are sufferings we have to undergo in the pursuit of our dreams.
The Transfiguration then reminds us that there are necessary pains involved in our choices. The image of these necessary sufferings is Jerusalem.
Second, the event of the Transfiguration is a moment of discernment. Jesus makes a resolution to follow the will of His Father no matter what it would cost Him. The ability to discern leads us to an understanding of the direction and path that one is to follow in the light of God’s purposes and intentions. And therefore the primary concern is doing God’s will; a response to the specific calling the Lord has for us. Walter Brueggemann said that this is what vocation means: it is to find “a purpose for being in the world that is related to God.”
For example, when we finally opt to become a doctor because we know that we would be happy taking care of the sick, then we have discerned our vocation and discovered a niche that would give us meaning in our lives. Thus we experience the Transfiguration at the moment of decision to absolutely follow this path. It reminds us to align our choices with the purposes of God and encourages us to pursue our vocation.
Finally, the event of the Transfiguration is a moment of identity. The disciples witnessed the divinity of Jesus; a confirmation of what they they have witnessed in the past: the healing of the sick, the forgiveness of sins, the return of sinners, the proclamation of the Good News to the poor. From the manner Jesus taught, the decisions He made, the principles He stuanchly stood His ground and the work He did, what the disciples believed all along were confirmed in the Transfiguration.
Who we are can be seen in the decisions we make in our lives. Our choices express our self-understanding. Our being children of God can be seen in our good and moral choices. When we remain honest in a culture of graft and corruption, we reflect God. When we become charitable in our words and actions in a culture of gossip, we mirror the Lord. We show to the world what we are made of when we choose: people describe us as kind-hearted because we have consistently opted to be gentle and sympathetic at a variety of chances and circumstances.
The Transfiguration reminds us about our identity as God’s children. We are challenged to look closely at our actions and evaluate whether what we do and say manifest the Father whom Jesus loved and obeyed in life, death and in His victory.