August 6, 2019 – Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus
From the Gospel of Luke (9:28b-36)
Jesus took Peter, John, and James
and went up a mountain to pray.
While he was praying his face changed in appearance
and his clothing became dazzling white.
And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah,
who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus
that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.
Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep,
but becoming fully awake,
they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.
As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus,
“Master, it is good that we are here;
let us make three tents,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
But he did not know what he was saying.
While he was still speaking,
a cloud came and cast a shadow over them,
and they became frightened when they entered the cloud.
Then from the cloud came a voice that said,
“This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”
After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone.
They fell silent and did not at that time
tell anyone what they had seen.
In the biblical tradition, mountains were known to be sacred places where one can encounter the divine or feel the presence of the Lord. In the time of Jesus, this belief was very strong and thus, the gospels would tell us how Jesus spent his time despite his hectic schedule in teaching and healing the sick just to go up to the mountain to “pray.” Yes, Jesus would go up to the mountain to pray, to commune with God, to relate with God more intimately. Mountains became a powerful symbol of the divine, of an encounter with God. This is a tradition handed down to us as we would usually find our retreat houses on the mountaintops. Because of our experiences of being there to encounter the divine, we are renewed and refreshed, energized and strengthened in responding to what God is inviting us to do as Christians.
Indeed, this is the very experience of Jesus and his three disciples – Peter, James and John. That experience on the mountain was in fact an extraordinary experience. What had been revealed to the disciples was the “transfiguration” of Jesus. The face of Jesus was changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. The three of them were more surprised when a cloud, a symbol of a holy presence, covered them. They were more terrified by that event. Only later that realization came, that that experience was a holy and privileged one. It was a glimpse of the true identity of Jesus as true God and a preview of his glorious resurrection.
But one could wonder, why would Jesus allow the three to see in advance or have a foretaste of the glorious resurrection? The voice that came from the clouds would tell us something. That mysterious voice says, “This is my chosen son; listen to him.”
That voice tells the three that Jesus is indeed the chosen one, he is the Christ, the Messiah that they have been waiting for – the BELOVED ONE to whom they should LISTEN! The disciples are told to LISTEN to Jesus and to follow him in this life. They are told to listen to the life that Jesus will show them and that life entails struggles, suffering, pain and even death but there will be also joy, happiness, and peace in the glorious resurrection.
And indeed, as they listened and followed Jesus, these fishermen turned into fishers of men. From being fearful and doubtful followers of Jesus they have become dedicated apostles and preachers of the Gospel. By listening to the Lord, they were transformed and converted into new persons.
THIS IS NOW THE MESSAGE, THE CALL THAT IS BEING OFFERED TO US – that each of us and as a community we are called to JOURNEY WITH GOD. And by journeying with God, it is very essential that WE LISTEN TO GOD, in listening to his Word. God is telling us now, “Hey, listen to me and be my herald of the good news, be my gossiper of the gospel to others!”
We are able to do that when we truly learn how to “pray and listen.” Remember, Jesus went up to the mountain to pray and through prayer he was transfigured. The disciples too where praying and it was through their prayer that they were made aware of that mysterious event in their lives. So it means that we too, are called to “pray and to listen,” to commune with God and to relate with God more intimately through our prayer. It is only when we become reflective and prayerful that we also become aware of the people around us. We become more connected with God and with others.
Transfiguration becomes a reality in us when we see and recognize the face of God in our brothers and sisters, when we learn and take the courage to watch out for those who feel unrecognized, to give a room for the stranger, to listen to those who are troubled and hear the cry of those who are desperate in life, to walk with those who are afraid and those whose hearts are broken and to give a helping hand to those who stumbled. Through these, we become a community centered on the Eucharist that is welcoming, embracing, loving and forgiving that may hopefully move to gradually transform ourselves into the way God wants us to be. Hinaut pa!