We Are the Reason
A Homily on the Transfiguration of the Lord
There is a story about a 75-year old woman who spoke to God in a vision. She asked God, “God, how much time do I have to live?” God replied, “35 more years.” And so for one whole year, the old woman did everything to make her face look beautiful and her body more shapely. She underwent plastic surgery several times: she had a face-lift and had her nose reshaped. She underwent liposuction where her body bulged in the wrong places. In other words, – a complete bodily transformation or makeover.
One day, confident and feeling as beautiful as ever, she was hit by a car and died instantly. When she entered St. Peter’s gate, she walked over to God and said, “God, what happened? I thought you said I had another 35 years!” God replied, “SORRY, I DID NOT RECOGNIZE YOU!”
Today’s Gospel recounts another transformation, although of a different kind -- that of our Lord Jesus. On a high mountain, Mt. Tabor, Jesus was transfigured before his three apostles Peter, James and John. They saw Jesus, with His body resplendent in glory, aglow with light, his face radiant as the sun, and his clothes dazzling white.
They saw the Lord conversing with two great Old Testament personalities: Moses, who gave God’s law to the Israelites and the great prophet Elijah. Then they were overshadowed by a cloud, from where the apostles heard God’s voice saying: “This is my beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased. LISTEN to Him.”
This experience of the three apostles on the mountaintop drastically changed their outlook as Christ’s divinity was revealed to them.
Scripture scholars say that the transfiguration of Jesus took place before His passion and death in order to strengthen the faith of the disciples when the time came for them to witness the sufferings the Lord would undergo which He had told them before. It was also to give them an inkling of Christ’s resurrection, which Jesus had mentioned to them before but did not understand.
Seeing the Lord transfigured, the three apostles realized that the world was not all there was. They knew that one day, they too would be transfigured, but first, they had to follow the clear command of God the Father: “LISTEN TO HIM.”
Throughout Lent and Holy Week, the Church helps us that we may listen to Jesus. The Church invites us to look, not at the transfigured Jesus, but at the disfigured Jesus when He climbed another mountain to suffer and die there. That was at Mt. Calvary. We are asked to contemplate the magnitude of the love that made Him endure His sufferings:
· The whipping and lashing that created numerous wounds on his sacred body,
· The crowning with thorns that pricked and bloodied His head,
· The heavy weight of the cross on His shoulders that renewed those wounds as He inched His way along the winding streets of Jerusalem,
· The excruciating pain as the nails were driven into his hands and feet,
· And the gasping for breath as he hung painfully for three long hours on the cross until He died.
Our second reading from Romans 8 tells us that God the Father did not spare His own Son, handing Him over for us all.
John 15:13 tells us: “Greater love than this no man has than to give his life for his friends.”
There is a beautiful song by David Meece that I think you are familiar with. The title is “We Are the Reason.” It reminds us that we were the reason that the Incarnate Son of God gave His life. We were the reason why he suffered and died.. . .He gave all He could give.”
With God loving us this way, how can we not love Him back? How can we not seek a more intimate relationship with Him and make Him the Center of our lives?
There is a saying in Spanish: “Amor con amor se paga.” Love begets love. Or Love is repaid by love.
We can love Jesus by LISTENING to Him in living our lives.
But the fact is there are many forces around us that distract us from paying attention to the Lord, such as the temptations of the flesh and the attractions of worldly pleasures, such as the prime importance the old woman in our story gave to physical appearance. Nowadays, we see the drive of a few powerful people aggressively silencing the voice of God and people of faith on social media platforms.
The Church suggests that we follow God’s command to LISTEN to Jesus this Lent principally through more intense prayer, by practicing acts of self-denial such as fasting to make us spiritually stronger, and by doing acts of charity to those most in need.
· When we spend more time with God in prayer, whether in private or in Church – we are LISTENING to Him.
- When we take time reading Sacred Scriptures daily, it is a time to listen to God speaking to us through the sacred texts.
· When we fight temptations to sin or confess them when we fall -- we are LISTENING to Him.
· When we fast and deny ourselves of some things our bodies desire for love of the Lord – we are LISTENING to Him.
· When we do acts of mercy towards the poor, the sick, and the needy -- we are LISTENING to Him.
· When we love and forgive others, including our enemies, and pray for them -- we are LISTENING to Him.
- When we share our Christian faith with others by word and example, and that includes spreading God’s Word including on social media, we are LISTENING to Him.
Each effort to listen to Jesus will transform us little by little, making us more and more Christ-like. And if we are Christ-like, we can be sure that, unlike the old woman in our story, God the Father will recognize us when we reach the gates of heaven.
And we will have our own transfiguration on the last day when God will raise our earthly bodies to new life and tell us: “You are my dearly beloved son or daughter in whom I am well pleased!" #