Transfiguration of the Lord
We celebrate today the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. The word transfiguration means a change in form or appearance. Biologists call it metamorphosis – which is defined as “the process of transformation from an immature form to an adult form.” Think of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly; a tadpole becoming a frog; a seed becoming a flower.
This is how today’s gospel narrative describes the event: “Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.” “And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.” We are also told that a voice from the cloud said: “This is my beloved Son; with whom I am well pleased, listen to him.”
I have already said several times before…The things we listen to have a great influence in our way of thinking, behaving, and acting. Whether we are aware of it or not (like it or not), the things we listen to have a great influence on us. That is why today’s gospel reading and the feast we celebrate have a timely message for us for they talk about listening –that is, to whom we should listen.
“Listen to him.” – that is God’s command to us. This is exactly what we should do: We should listen more and more to Jesus. We must shut off the voice of vested interest and selfish ambition, and listen to the voice of humble service and selfless love. We must shut off the voice of prejudice and rash judgment, and listen to the voice of understanding and respect. We must shut off the voice of hatred and bitterness, and listen to the voice of forgiveness and reconciliation. We must shut off the voice of falsehood and empty promises, and listen to the voice of truth and honesty. We must shut off the voice of wealth, power and popularity, and listen to the voice of sharing, self-giving and humility.
Sin, in its core, is disobedience to God. Sin is the refusal to listen to God. According to Bishop Robert Barron, all the great dysfunctions in the world come from the “primal problem of refusing to listen to the voice of God.” All the wickedness that has spread over the face of the earth is rooted in our refusal to listen to the Lord.
The tragic reality of our life is this: We are disfigured due to our refusal or failure to listen to the Lord. We are made ugly by listening to the voice of self-centeredness and selfishness. We are distorted by listening to the voice which teaches a wrong sense of values and priorities. We are damaged by listening to the voice which perpetuates hatred, bitterness, and unforgiveness. We are deformed by listening to the voice which causes so much fears and anxieties in us. We are defaced by listening to the voice which promotes greed, worldliness, and materialism.
Today’s Feast of the Transfiguration is a call to listen to Jesus. By listening attentively to the Lord Jesus we allow ourselves to be transfigured, to be transformed. From someone who is selfish and self-centered, to somebody who is able to manifest selfless love. From someone who is preoccupied with material things, to somebody who seeks first the kingdom of God. From someone who is burdened with worries, fears and anxieties, to somebody who is filled with trust and hope in God. From someone who is imprisoned by guilt and bitterness, to somebody who is forgiven and is able to forgive. Let God’s love make us Christ-like…so that with St. Paul we can say: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” (Gal. 2: 20)
Let us end with a prayer: Lord Jesus, we sincerely and humbly beg you to transfigure us by God’s love. We have been disfigured by sinfulness –transfigure us by God’s forgiving love. We have been disfigured by guilt and regrets –transfigure us by God’s understanding love. We have been disfigured by anxieties and fears –transfigure us by God’s provident love. We have been disfigured by failures and frustrations –transfigure us by God’s uplifting love. We have been disfigured by materialism and consumerism –transfigure us by God’s transforming love. We have been disfigured by bitterness and unforgiveness –transfigure us by God’s compassionate love. We have been disfigured by rejection and conditional love –transfigure us by God’s unconditional love. Lord Jesus, help us to allow the power of God’s love to change us, to renew us, to transform us, to transfigure us. Amen.