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Friday, March 18, 2011


Recorded on Australian Catholic Radio Online:
     Last Sunday Jesus was tempted by the devil not to go to the cross by offering him three shortcuts to glory.  Jesus did not succumb to the temptations as he would embrace the cross in obedience to his Father.  For a number of times, Jesus predicted his passion to his disciples who were scandalized by the thought that their Master, the Messiah would undergo such suffering and death.  This second Sunday of Lent, Jesus tried to dispel that scandal by showing his glory as the reward for his impending death.
      Let us go back to the Old Testament as a key in understanding the meaning of the Transfiguration.  In the book of Genesis, God made man in his own image and likeness.  After sin, that image has been tarnished and man did not look like God anymore.  The Messiah had been promised who would bring that image back to its original form.  And what is that form?  It is the 'christic" mold by which all of us were created.  Jesus would be that "mold" through which all of his followers would be re-created.
    Let's go to the experience of the Transfiguration.  If you go to the Holy Land and climb Mt. Thabor, you will find a beautiful Franciscan church at the top of that mountain.  Inside the church are three chapels dedicated to Jesus, Moses (who represented the Law) and Elijah (who represented the Prophets).  When Peter saw the vision, he wanted to build three tents just to contain and lengthen the experience as most of us wanted to prolong a religious experience.  Suddenly from the cloud (which represented the Shekinah glory, that is the Holy Spirit), the Father's voice was heard "Here is my son, the Beloved, listen to him."  This is the second and the last trinitarian theophany wherein the three persons of the Trinity are made visible in a human experience.  The first one was during Jesus' baptism wherein the Holy Spirit came down as a dove and the same voice was heard proclaiming Jesus as his Son.  Some of us may ask why would the Trinity manifest himself at the Transfiguration?  It is because the Passion was a trinitarian experience, although it was centered on Jesus. This means that the Father and the Holy Spirit also experienced the Passion of Jesus.  Let us not forget that during the most difficult moments of our lives, the Father is there for us, reminding us that we are his child, his beloved and that he is suffering with us.
          This week the world has been stunned by the massive destruction of the tsunami, earthquake and the nuclear radiation that hit Japan.  We see the face of suffering of once a very powerful nation brought to its knees, humiliated by nature.  We also see the pains of the peoples of Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen and other Arab nations as they long for a more humane life better than their governments are offering them.  We see in these experiences the longing of humanity in the transformation of society towards the fullness of life.  In the very heart of reality, there will always be a longing for the Transfiguration of man.
    Maybe some of us will also ask why are we reading the life of Abraham in the first reading?  What is the connection of Abraham to the Transfiguration?  Abraham was called by God to leave Ur to go to the Promised Land.  Why would God ask Abraham to leave Ur?  Because Ur represented Abraham's old self where he was worshipping other pagan gods.  Unless we leave behind our old selves together with the idols and gods we have been worshipping in our lives, we will never experience our own transfiguration.  It was a very difficult journey for Abraham because he did not know where the Promised Land was.  Our own journey will not be easy either, like Abraham's.  Along the way, we will carry own crosses, we will be tested, we will fail, we will cry, we will ask questions.  But we do not walk only by sight because this is a pilgrimage of faith wherein God is walking with us all the way.  At the end of the pilgrimage is our very own Mt. Thabor wherein our true selves are awaiting to be transformed just like Jesus. 
          Whenever we come to the Eucharist, we come to our spiritual Mt. Thabor wherein we experience the transfiguration of Jesus on the altar as well as our own personal and ecclesial transfiguration together with Jesus.  

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