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Friday, March 14, 2014

TRANSFIGURATION OF JESUS, HUMANITY & CREATION



2ND SUNDAY OF LENT – A
Matthew 17:1-9

To listen to the Australian Catholic Radio Online:

http://cradio.org.au/talks-and-resources/homilies/fr-vladimir-echalas-solt/transfiguration-salvation/ 
        
          Our human body in itself is a wonder that started as a single cell during conception and grows into a complex machine as it matures.  From its early existence it is transformed through   impressively elaborate processes from a literally tiny speck which is even invisible to the naked eye into our present magnificent physical structure.  In order to build up the physical body we have today, there is a constant dying of old cells in order to give birth to new ones.  Examples are the following:  Deep inside our bone marrow there are 150 millions of red corpuscles that die every minute after circulating our body and yet another 150 millions are born anew; our skin sheds and re-grows every month; every 10 years we have a new skeleton, etc. (BBC's documentary Inside the Human Body)  Our body is constantly changing when old cells give way to new ones until the time when the bodily processes come to a halt that leads to our last breath.
         Our life is more than the sum of all the processes that we go through from the womb to the tomb.   A human being is not just a physical body that is understood by empirical science but a person who is capable of transcending his existence beyond the physical world.  This is shown to us in the Transfiguration of Jesus.
         When God created humanity, the Word was the "mold" by which every man and woman would be formed.  Out from that mold which was the Son, humanity would be formed as the children of God.   Yet sin came along and destroyed that likeness.   The only way humanity could be redeemed is for the Word to incarnate himself into the flesh which was destroyed by sin.   When this happened, humanity would be re-created again back to its “Christic form”.   It is not just by assuming the sinful flesh that God re-creates humanity but by transforming it through a painful birthing in the Paschal Mystery.
         In the Transfiguration, the voice of the Father was heard: "Here is my son, the Beloved, listen to him."   It was a loving reminder that by listening to the Word we can be transformed and become beloved of the Father once again.    Jesus knew that listening to the Father was obeying his will (obedience is from ab audire which means to listen), and taking up the cross was the Father’s will which he had to follow.   Transfiguration then was the foretaste of the glory that would be given to Jesus by the Father in reward for doing his will.   Yet the meaning was not yet understood by Peter, James and John at the moment because they were overwhelmed by the “out of this world” experience.
What is the connection of Abraham (First Reading)  to the Transfiguration? Abraham was called by God to leave Ur to go to the Promised Land.  Why did God ask Abraham to leave Ur?  Because Ur represented Abraham's old self where he was worshiping other pagan gods.  Like Abraham unless we leave behind our old selves together with the idols and gods we have been worshiping 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 just do not walk 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. 
Transfiguration is not just a continuous phenomenon that is happening to us as human beings, it is also happening to the whole creation.    Because “creation is charged in the grandeur of God” (Gerard Manley Hopkins), it continues to groan in the labor pains of birth and re-birth (Romans 8: 22).  This calls every man and woman to be stewards of creation we call home and to be co-transformers of the all the gifts contained therein.   Every act of injustice against humanity and ecology is stifling the breath-Spirit that animates them.  Taking away that breath against the will of God, is raping the sense of the sacred in creation and stopping it towards its full transfiguration.
         Whenever we celebrate the Eucharist, we come to our spiritual Mt. Thabor wherein we experience the transfiguration of Jesus on the altar together with our own transfiguration and the congregation and the world as well.  We may not see nor feel it because it is something internal and spiritual.  The Eucharist is the foretaste of our transfiguration in heaven which is the true Promised Land.

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