From our Pastor’s Desk
Dear Parish Family:
The season of lent so far has offered us some of the best selections of readings from the Bible geared to our overall growth in Spirit. Today, our attention is drawn to the special event of the transfiguration of Jesus.
What is Transfiguration? It is a change of figure (size, shape, color, appearance, etc.) It is a change in the way something is perceived by the ordinary eye so as to reveal something deeper, something beyond the surface; the true nature of something. When Jesus was transfigured, Peter, James and John got the chance to behold Jesus Christ as God.
What they saw was far deeper than what the Gospel of Mark reports. They only tried to compare what they saw with things we see. But the truth is that as St. Paul said: “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him,” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
Heaven is real. Heaven is beautiful. Heaven is worth our efforts. Peter only saw a flash of heaven and he did not want to leave anymore. He was suggesting that three tents should be built; he just wanted to remain. When we get to heaven, no matter how loud the cries of those who love us may be, none of us would like to return back to this world.
Why the Transfiguration? For me, this event took place first of all, to strengthen the faith of the disciples; to give them something to fall back on when they would watch their master Jesus beaten, spat upon, insulted, dragged like a common criminal, humiliated, terribly mistreated and eventually crucified. The transfiguration was necessary to reveal to the disciples and to every one of us that there is always going to be light at the end of the tunnel.
Every time God answers our prayers, every time we get to do thanksgiving, we are experiencing our own transfigurations. It is good that we hold on to such moments because they happen once in a while to strengthen us and prepare us for tough days ahead. Life is not always going to be a bed of roses. Never forget the good times so that in bad times, you will remember that God still loves you.
To understand the Deeper Meaning of the Transfiguration, we must look at the first reading today from the Book of Genesis. Abraham waited for twenty five long years before God answered his prayer and blessed him with a promised son, Isaac. Abraham was the happiest man on earth. He so much loved Isaac that God became jealous. Like Abraham, most of us make the mistake of falling in love with the blessings of God much more than God himself.
Because the love of Isaac had taken so much space in Abraham’s heart, God wanted to test Abraham’s true loyalty. God demanded the ultimate sacrifice from Abraham. Think of something you cannot part with, something so dear and so precious to you that in all sincerity, you love more than God. Picture yourself as giving up that very thing to God. It is hard, isn’t it? That is exactly what Abraham did and that is what we are called to do – give up those things that wrestle with our love for God.
By tying up Isaac on the altar to be given as a burnt offering, (note that Isaac assisted in arranging the wood for the sacrifice), Isaac became a prefiguration of Jesus. The voice of the father at the transfiguration becomes a clear confirmation of the fact that Jesus is the beloved Son of God (meaning: that which God loves the most) who, like Isaac, assisted in sacrificing himself willingly for the salvation of the world.
In the transfiguration we see how God takes the place of Abraham to offer the love of his life as a sacrifice for mankind. If God was willing to give up everything he has for you and me to have life, what greater proof do we need that he loves us? St. Paul in our second reading today says: “What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him?” (Romans 8:31-32).
Finally, if God could go to this extent for our salvation, what am I doing to reciprocate that love? Why do I still love earthly things more than God? The voice of the Father at the transfiguration added: “listen to him.” Do I take time to listen to Jesus every day? Am I just a Sundaybench warmer? Do I listen to worldly music all day and claim not to have time to listen to God’s voice?
We must pray to the Lord Jesus in thanksgiving for his great love for us. By dying for us, He made us His greatest priority. Through our prayers may He help us to live for Him by making Him our greatest priority. May our love for everything else never come in between us and Him. Let us continue being One Body, One Spirit, One Family! Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Katharine Drexel, Saint Michael the Archangel, Pope Saint Pius X and Blessed Dr. José Gregorio Hernández, pray for us!
Yours in Christ Jesus!