March 16, 2014
A story is told about a missionary who went to a mountainous area in Vietnam to proclaim the Gospel among the ethnic groups who were famous warrior people. One day the priest was explaining to a group of adults the saving activities of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He told how Jesus was the Savior and Redeemer of all humankind. When he finished, an elder of a tribe slowly stood up and said to the missionary: "You have spoken well, but I want to learn more about this great person Jesus Christ. I have three questions about him: First, did he ever kill a lion? Second, how many horses did he have? Third, how many wives and children did he have?"
The Gospel of this Sunday presents who Jesus really is. Up to this time Christ had been mostly working in his native Galilee. There he had some considerable success, but also got mounting opposition from the religious leaders. Then he was heading for Jerusalem; he knew the worst was waiting for him. He sensed that the same fate awaited him as befell all the true prophets – a violent death. In a human point of view, it was too much for a man. “Do I have to endure it?” He pondered. That aspect took him apart; and with three of his closest friends he climbed up the mountain to pray for strength and enlightenment. There he poured out his soul to the Father. It was while he prayed that he had a marvelous experience.
In a moment the darkness lifted and life was transformed with meaning. Two big figures of the past, Moses and Elijah, appeared and conversed with him. His face shone with joy. Then the Father’s voice sounded: “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; Listen to him.”
The disciples saw this joy and were enthralled by it. When he came down from the mountain he was able to face that bleak future with faith, hope and love. His Father wanted his journey to continue.
Life is a journey and every journey has particular aspects and sometimes they are very difficult to bear. Have you ever left home, town or country to an unknown destination as Abraham had? What Abraham could carry with him was the trust in the God who called him. I shared with him that same feeling when I crossed the ocean on a little canoe without a clear destination. Only one thing I had was the trust in the providence of the loving Father.
Even if you do not have that kind of journey but at times your life-journey can become very dark for you. It is in those moments that you need your own “Mount Tabor” where the Lord transfigured. You need to experience your own worth and the meaning of your pain and sacrifices. Without meaning, pain, hardship and sacrifices can destroy you. With meaning, they can transform you into the glory as they did to the Lord Jesus. But where is your “Mount Tabor” to come from? It comes from the relationship with the Lord through your fasting, prayer, almsgiving and especially your receiving of the sacraments. It also comes from the love and support of your friends.
Sometimes your friends can do just little for you. All they can do is just to stay by your side, as the disciples stayed by Christ’s side on the mountain.
Even Christ didn’t kill a lion, didn’t have any horse and didn’t have wives and children, but through his transfiguration he gave you a glimpse of your own glory. He revealed to you that you are beloved sons and daughters of the Father. In the life, death and resurrection of Christ, you see the ultimate meaning of your own life and death. But this hope is only offered to those who followed him along the road to Jerusalem; that means the road to passion, death and resurrection. Can you find yourself there?