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Some Thoughts on the Feast of the Transfiguration

{ Tags: , , \ Aug6 }

During today’s masses, I had the opportunity to talk about two aspects of the Transfiguration in two different occassions.  One was based on Peter’s reaction to the experience, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here." and the other is anchored on the voice from the cloud "This is my Beloved Son.  Listen to him."  This latter was also the line of thought I followed when the same gospel reading was read during the period of Lent.

"Rabbi, it is good for us to be here."  During yesterday’s bible sharing at Olympia, our group focused on the experiences that we’ve had and how these have helped us go through difficult moments in our lives.  The experiences shared were religious in nature, mostly associated with religious activities — a life in the spirit seminar, a PREX session, praying the rosary…, etc."  The members of the group were of different ages but were associated with the parish’s religious organizations.  Peter’s reaction is in a sense not different from what one feels after a good retreat.  I remember the first retreat I ever attended: it was so well handled that all of us participants lamented the fact that it only lasted a week.  Peter’s religious experience was transitory.  Afterwards, he and his companions had to go down the mountain and once more face the challenges of life.  In their case, a boy possessed by a demon.  But Peter did use the experience later on to encourage the early christian community to hold on to their hope and not be swayed (cf. the second reading for the liturgy).  Our experience of the Lord — whether from a religious activity or even from a theophanic moment occassioned by the beauty of nature — are all gifts designed by the Providence of God to remind us that He does not leave us alone.  Peter, therefore was right in asking his readers to hold on to that memory he passes on to them and take it as a prophetic word that would shine like a lamp in the midst of a darkened world.

"Listen to Him…"  I have written somewhere that with this command, the voice from the cloud is actually saying — not only to Peter, James and John — but also to the listeners of the gospel reading, that what Jesus says is what God says.  John in his gospel goes farther:  Jesus is the Word of God and therefore He must be listened to.  Paul would even add that He is God’s "Amen" to all our prayers.

The first time that I preached about this today, I used the eye-ear/heart/hand metaphor I have been trying to develop during these years.  When we listen to the Lord, we not only listen to get information; we listen so as to obey because we know that listening to Him is a matter of vital importance, a question of life or death.  The voice from the cloud was actually saying that Jesus should be our life-Teacher, the one who tells us how to live.  There isn’t anything strange in this command.  After all, by virtue of our baptism, it is no longer our lives we live, but the life of Christ poured in us.  Or one can take this from a different perspective.

Since the early years of Christianity, the symbol of a Christian has been the fish.  In a sense it was the symbol of those who have been caught by the fishers of men.  But in another sense, the Christian is a "fish" that lives in the ocean of Christ’s life (in the homily I spoke of those living immersed in the blood of Christ).  In this latter sense, the fish becomes an apt metaphor for the kind of life that we live immersed in the Paschal Mystery.  We listen to Christ because it is His life that we now live.  Paul already said it well:  when we were baptized, we died to sin so that we can live for Christ.  This is in fact the meaning of the sign of the cross that is made on the child when he/she is baptized.  The priest while tracing on the forehead of the baptizandi the sign of the cross says, "I now claim you for Christ."

Christ who is the Word of God claims us for Himself.  The claim is on all aspects of our being:  on our WorldView, our LifeProject and on our LifeStyle.  In other words, Jesus is not just a teacher among teachers or even the best among them.  His claim upon the Christian is total because the price he paid for us — as Peter himself would point out — is not by gold and silver, but by the precious Blood of the Lamb.


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