Today’s gospel is the story of the Transfiguration, one of my favorite gospel stories. Sometimes, I imagine myself one of the band of brothers that followed Jesus in the hamlets and hills of Galilee. The transfiguration must have been the most emotive moment for the three apostles (Peter, James and John). Jesus took the three up a mountain top and there something amazing and breathtaking happened before their eyes.
There must have been other peak moments during their ministry with Jesus – starting with the wedding at Cana to the multiplication of the bread, to the raising of Lazarus from the dead, to the many healings, to the inspiring preaching, and finally to the triumphant entry to Jerusalem. But above them all, stood out the transfiguration. It was to prepare the apostles for the harrowing and totally unexpected death of Jesus on the cross. The apostles thought it was the end. But the unexpected ending had another totally unexpected twist to it. He rose from the dead. The Risen Christ eventually enabled them to understand better all the events and the words of Jesus. It did not end there either. Christ was again taken away from them (Ascension), but the Holy Spirit was sent to them to be with them till the end of time (Pentecost). And the story goes on today. In the world and in the heart of every believer.
There is a difference between knowing and believing. I know that there was once a man who lived by the name of Jesus. I believe that he is still active in the world today and in my own life. I know there is a God to be able to explain and understand everything there is. I believe that this God has personal interest in me as an individual and knows me by name. I know there is a lot of evil in the world today. I believe that God will make all thing beautiful and bring them to perfection in His time. This is because I have had my own experiences of the transfiguration where I encountered the comforting and reassuring presence of God in my life.
The transfiguration story was also the gospel on the Sunday of the EDSA revolution in the Philippines. Those were dark days for the Philippines when a dictator lorded it over the whole nation. But in spite of the darkness, we were inspired to bring about changes in a peaceful and loving manner. It was a Transfiguration moment for a whole country. People knew things were not right. They believed that change is possible in God willed it. I know that people came out in great numbers and stood before tanks to prevent bloodshed. I believe that God was walking among us during those days. I know that in the end the dictator scurried away. I believe that God is looking after our country to this day even if he may seem absent.
Today, the country is again going through a dark and troubled period. There is so much dissension and falsification of facts. Many people I respect seem to have gone over to the dark side; and they are probably wondering why I remain on the dark side. I know things are not going very well in the country where I am and the country where my roots are. Yet, I believe there will come a time when the peak experience of the transfiguration will become a reality.
Through these troubled times I keep my eyes on the person who angered people by what he said and did and finally had him crucified, but who brought a startling twist to the story by rising from the dead, and who promised to be with us for all time. A person who taught and practiced love and forgiveness in a world given to hatred and revenge, who did what needed to be done to set things right like feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, healing the sick, visiting those who had no one to visit them. I know I can do some of those. I know I have had my own transfiguration moments. I believe I will also share in his resurrection.