Our Gospel today tells us of the transfiguration of Jesus in the presence of three of his closest disciples: Peter, James and John. It was an experience not only for Jesus himself but also for his disciples, especially Peter. We can note that earlier in this chapter of Luke, we heard of Peter professing his faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God [Lk9:20]. And now his faith in Jesus Christ as the messiah is being confirmed in the way that he and the other disciples were allowed to experience a foretaste of Christ’s glory [Lk 9:28-36].
Because of that heavenly and glorious experience, Peter wouldn’t let go of his own satisfaction. He wanted to remain and stay right there at the top of the mountain. That experience has become for him the very important thing that he forgot the very important cost of Messiahship that Jesus, the Christ had to pay, i.e. death on the cross for our salvation. He missed the point of transfiguration as a ‘pre-view’ so to speak of what was going to happen to Jesus and his faithful disciples only after walking the way of the cross and after embracing his cross. So all he could comment was: ‘Master, it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ But this particular episode is not what God wants to finish his story of salvation with. So we heard the ‘voice’ from heaven saying: ‘This is my Son, the Chosen one. Listen to him.’
So we who are here today, let us resolve to listen to Jesus and obey his voice. How?
Three things: First, getting down from our own mountain of glory and self-gratification or satisfaction. Jesus told Peter and the other disciples they had to go down from the mountain of glory. They have to proceed to Jerusalem, to suffer and die to fulfil the mission of the Messiah. For us as a Church, this means getting out of our comfort zones, not just working for the poor, the oppressed, the persecuted, the victims of abuse, victims of violence, and the victims of injustice, but really working in solidarity with them by being there with them in their hopes and struggles and assisting them in the way we can. During lent, this can mean giving up something that we love or like doing such as eating sweets or drinking wine and soft drinks, etc. This can also mean taking on something good, noble and true that can help us remind ourselves that we are in this holy season of lent such as visiting an elderly neighbour, distributing meals on wheels, allocating some amount to charity, etc.
Second, keeping our focus on Jesus and listening to him as the ‘voice’ [assumed to be of the Father’s] urged us to do in our gospel today. It is a bit of a challenge to listen to Jesus today because of the many things that occupy not only our minds, but also in our hearts. We have the inner noise telling us to listen and be conformed with the world. Wherever we go, we can hear this inner noise telling us to get this thing or that because they guarantee us of real happiness and contentment.
To counteract this current trend and allurements of the world, we need to grow in our desire to see Jesus. And our desire to see him would only be fulfilled and grow, says Ricardo Cardinal Vidal to the young people in Cebu during the 19th Local World Youth day in 2004, if we stop searching and following the false beauty, the empty pleasures, the luxury of life, the spirit-killing leisure and the noise in the world. The Cardinal added that we can certainly find Jesus in our search for the true beauty in our act of self-giving, in the silence of our hearts, in our meditation and in our prayer. (Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, You’re Still Young, I’m Old…a Conversation with the Youth of Cebu, pp14-15)
Third is making Jesus our personal friend. In this way we can really be with him, be like him and work like him. The beauty of being a friend of Jesus is that like the disciples we may have to witness his agony and sufferings, we also have the chance to witness the wonders of his work, the beauty of him as a friend, and even to become sharers of his glory as his close disciples experienced. Being a friend of Jesus enables us to bring him to others and empowers us to bring others to Jesus to become his friends as well. This sounds like an ideal move but it can be done. How? St Paul would offer us some ways here in our Second Reading today. Putting himself forward to be our model in following Christ Jesus, St Paul reminds us of our true homeland which is heaven, and that to get there we must not be like some people who ‘are behaving as the enemies of the cross of Christ.’ This means that we must not be content of building up tent and enjoy the serenity there up in our own mountain. Rather, we have to go down, follow Christ on the way to the Cross, as well as embrace and carry our particular crosses too. Paul also added an important note here that we must ‘not give way but remain faithful in the Lord.’ (Phil 3:17-4:1)
So as we continue our Eucharistic celebration today and as we continue reflecting on the transfiguration of Jesus, let us imitate Jesus in his prayerfulness, trust and dependence to his Father’s will. Let us also resolve to listen to him as he tells us to come down from the mountain and follow him on the way to the cross. Let us also pray that like Jesus we may not be afraid to deny ourselves, to be courageous to take up our cross and be faithful in following him on the way to his passion, death and resurrection. Amen.