Mission Society of the Philippines

Homilies

SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT: A SEASON TO TRANSFIGURE OURSELVES

Mk 9:2-10

THE SECOND SUNDAY of Lent brings us to one important event in the life of Jesus, which is the Transfiguration. I describe it as an important event because the ascent to Jerusalem is symbolic of the glory which is to come in Jesus’ life. Moreover, the fact that this event becomes part of the “five mysteries of light” then it must have been significant.The inclusion suggests that it is indeed significant.

Let us try to examine once again the important moments found in this passage.

First, the opening line of the passage says that Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain. They must be there for prayer. For Jesus, a mountain is a favorite place for prayer. Although people would say that God is everywhere or God can be found and experienced everywhere, the mountain is a privileged place for encounter with God or for spiritual nourishment. In the Philippines, the best and popular retreat houses are found in the mountains. We have some retreat houses in the mountain cities of Baguio and Tagaytay. Why mountain? Well, some spiritual writers would say that the height of the mountain speaks of the meeting between humanity and God. If prayer and spiritual retreats are about encounter with God, then the mountain is a symbolic place for that encounter. The Lenten season calls us to prayer, to be more generous by spending more time with God. Thus, this is a moment to ascend to our own favorite mountains.

Second, Jesus transfigured before the three disciples. The meaning of transfiguration for Jesus is a foretaste of the glory which is to come after he undergoes passion and death; and at the same time, it is preparation for facing the cross, as John Paul II taught. In like manner, the season of Lent can be a privileged moment to allow ourselves to be “transfigured.” In this world where comfort and convenience become the ultimate values, people tend to be afraid of facing life’s hardships and discomforts. For some, there is always an answer to every life’s pains: abortion, euthanasia, divorce. These happen because people don’t want to face the discomforts of life. If life is a gift, then it has to be nourished at all cost. If there are hardships in life, we need to undergo a process of “transfiguration,” that is, to prepare ourselves for facing the crosses in life.

Third, let us reflect on the reaction of Peter who said, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here.” Peter’s reaction can mean many things: the joy of prayer or the joy of praying as a community, which is indeed true. But it can also mean the joy of being away from day-to-day struggles. In fact, the suggestion to build three tents may mean a building of the so-called “comfort zones.” Certainly, Jesus did not agree with him or with his suggestion because that is not the truth of life. For Jesus, building a tent would mean a withdrawal from the coming pain or a refusal to accept the cross or refusal to undergo passion and death. The season of Lent is also an invitation for us to break our comfort zones, or our own tents so that we can also grow psychologically and spiritually.

Fourth, there was a voice of the Father which says, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” This is comparable to the passage on the baptism of Jesus. The Father invites the people to listen to his beloved Son. Listening, accordingly, is an art. Nowadays, more and more people do not care to listen. Most of the problems in relationships, like family or marriage, come to worse because of the inability of people to listen. Children do not listen to their parents and vice versa. Or husbands do not listen to their wives and vice versa. This attitude can be dangerous because our ability to listen to the Word of God and the ability to do the will of God would also suffer. I am not sure how many church-goers who come to Church on Sundays actually listen to the readings or Word of God. If we are there only to sit, but not to listen, then, we miss the opportunity to be spiritually enriched by the Word of God. Lenten season is also an invitation for us to listen to God. Most of the time, we have been listening to our own selves, our own desires, our own wants. Most often these do not do good to us because we then become self-centered and selfish. Consequently, we need to listen to God. Listening is one way through which we can grow in our relationship with God. And to others too.


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