Beautiful Things from Jesus' Transfiguration
2nd Sunday of Lent, Year A
Beauty and the Beast. I grew up watching and loving this movie in my teenage years (2nd year high school). And just as when I thought I had enough of this spectacular movie, a classic so to speak, 10 years after, a new adaptation comes along. Can it match the original animated version? I asked myself. But, regardless of whether it will or it won’t, we should care less about the externalities, right? What we should care more about is how it could somehow “change” or “transform” our lives. In fact, the movie is filled with “transformations:” Cogsworth was transformed into a clock; Lumiere into a candelabra; Mrs. Potts into a pot; and Adam (whose name was not mentioned in the film) as the Beast! In every case, the changes are intended to convey a lesson: learn to recognize the souls of those you meet and look past the superficial.
Today’s Gospel somehow conveys a similar lesson. But, other than simply recognizing the inner “beauty” in each one of us, the transfiguration of Christ empowers us to transform our lives through conversion and renewal, and to radiate the glory and grace of the transfigured Lord which we have received all around us by our Spirit-filled lives. Unlike the “Beast” who awaits for “true love” to transform him, we already have the power to transform ourselves brought about by the Father’s selfless love revealed in Christ … in whom the Father’s favor rests.
As we talk of beauty, allow me to present three beautiful things on the 2nd Sunday of Lent:
1. The Beauty of the Transubstantiation in the Holy Mass. In the Eucharist, the bread and wine is transformed into the Body and Blood of Jesus under the appearances of bread and wine. Just as Jesus’ Transfiguration strengthened the Apostles in their time of trial, each Holy Mass should be our source of Heavenly strength against our own temptations and our source for the renewal of our lives during Lent. In addition, communion with Jesus in prayer and in the Eucharist should be a source of daily transformation of both our minds and hearts. We must also be transformed by becoming more humble and selfless, sharing love, compassion and forgiveness with others. But in our everyday lives, we often fail to recognize Jesus when he appears to us “transfigured,” hidden in someone who is in some kind of need. With the eyes of Faith, we must see Jesus in every one of our brothers and sisters, the children of God we come across each day and, by His grace, respond to Him with love and service.
2. The Beauty of the Sacraments that we receive transform us. Baptism, for example, transforms us to become children of God and heirs of heaven. Confirmation makes us the temples of the Holy Spirit. The Sacrament of Reconciliation brings us back to the path of holiness from a life of sin. The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, in faith can heal us spiritually and even physically forgives us of our sin.
Let us, therefore, realize the significant effects of the sacraments that we receive and make the most of them by receiving them as frequently as possible to transform into “sons” and “daughters” whom God created us to be.
4. The Beauty of the Need for 'Mountain-top’ Experiences in Our Lives. The “mountain-top” experience or the “desert” or “wilderness” experience, however you call it, is an experience very appropriate for Lent as we dispose ourselves to repentance and conversion. We can do so when we spend some extra time in prayer during Lent. Perhaps we may want to give up things that we are attached to or activities we love doing in order that we may remember the starving millions in the world, and make us more willing to help them.
John A. Redhead, Jr. tells of a father and son who have a really good relationship. Among their many good times together, one stood out above all the rest: It was a hike up a particular mountain where they seemed to reach the height of a beautiful friendship. After they returned home, there came a day when things did not seem to run as smoothly. The father rebuked the son, and the son spoke sharply in return. An hour later, the air had cleared. “Dad,” said the son, “whenever it starts to get like that again, let’s one of us say ‘The Mountain Top.’” So it was agreed. In a few weeks another misunderstanding occurred. The boy was sent to his room in tears. After a while, the father decided to go up and see the boy. He was still angry until he saw a piece of paper pinned to the door. The boy had penciled three words in large letters: “The Mountain Top.” That symbol was powerful enough to restore the relationship of father and son. (Harry Emerson Fosdick, Riverside Sermons (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1958).
This story reminds me of the reassuring words of Bishop Robert Barron, in his book, “The Strangest Way” when he said: “A new center comes to us as a divine gift, and our first responsibility is to welcome it… We don’t stand at the bottom of the holy mountain wondering whether we can clamber our way to the summit, attaining the divine through our heroic efforts. On the contrary, through God’s grace, we start on the mountaintop, as the beloved children of God, cherished and redeemed.” And so, when Jesus led Peter, James and John up a high mountain part of the revelation aside from Him being the Son of God, was to remind them of God’s unceasing love. The initiative to LOVE came from God first even before we seek it out for ourselves.
Going back to Beauty and the Beast. The Beast could only reverse the spell if he's able to find true love's kiss before the last petal of the enchanted rose falls down. Are we looking for a true love's kiss too? Well, true love's kiss has already been given to us when Christ offered His life on the cross ... the selfless sacrifice ... the truest love's kiss.
May this Lenten Season empower us through the grace of God, to face life's struggles squarely and transform us to become the children He has created us to be after His glory.