By BRO. NOY LOYOLA
Redemptorists Lay Mission
Psalms 116: 10, 15, 16-17, 18-19
Genesis 22: 1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18
Romans 8: 31b-34
Mark 9: 2-10
The gospel today is actually a happy note to bolster our courage and to dispel our fears after Jesus foretold of his upcoming severe rejection, suffering, and death, but on the third day, he will be raised to life again (Lk 9:22). Nonetheless, as always, Luke presents Jesus addressing every difficulty with prayer, and thus sets the context and event of the transfiguration.
We had been encountering the story of transfiguration year after year, and we may ponder upon, what could be its meaning every time we reread it? Could there be a revelation, a new one or something to be re-affirmed?. In this age of science and technology, any person with a lot of money can literally transform oneself into anything as one wishes. If you are sixty years old, you can make yourself look like sixteen again. With proper skill, diligence, and monetary back-up, we can go wherever and can become whatever our hearts desire. Although there is always a limit to what we want to accomplish. Hence, the lesson of last Sunday’s gospel regarding our need to resist temptations, which are usually about fame, power, and fortune continue.
This is easier said than done. There are distractions in our way as we focus ourselves on our aim. For instance, our propensity for relaxation and entertainment had actually developed our capacity to endure annoying TV commercials that keep us from listening to God. Every day is an opportunity to hear God’s word. By tradition, Sundays become the celebrative summing up of week’s recognition of God’s might revelation.
We can observe, however, that for the week-days (working and school days) we seem to get entertainment through the boob tubes and consider it as a moment of relaxation. We become the hostage of advertisements. We are flooded with marketing strategies of capitalists and tempt us to acquire new gadgets and purchase online latest digital games. When we get tired of watching TV we tune in to online music or our favorite radio station. Do they become instruments of God’s message? Can we listen to God’s voice through those moments of entertainment? What message do we hear beneath those marketing strategies?
Pope Francis offers us practical advice on how to go about this season of Lent. Indeed, we need to double our efforts in praying. And the way to do that is by way of ascending and descending movements. By ascending movement he means that we go to a quiet place, like “mountains,” to get closer to God. We can choose our own “mountains” to get closer to God. It is in places where we can see and listen to what God is about to reveal. After praying we also need to descend “from the mountain” and face reality once again. We must continue our mission of announcing God’s love especially to the poor.
Prayer reinforces our loving relationship with God. This is precisely the content of Genesis 15:5-12,17-18. God has shown his love for Abraham and Sarah who were childless. God promised them descendants as numerous as the stars of the evening sky, and the condition to raise those descendants by giving them a land of their own.
Pope Benedict XVI asserts that our relationship with God is the basic condition for peace in the world. He says, “Only the man who is reconciled with God can also be reconciled and in harmony with himself, and only the man who is reconciled with God and with himself can establish peace around him and throughout the world.”
The way for our own transfiguration is our continuous descent (going down from prayer) in the form of self-emptying. Instead of accumulating fortune, fame, and power for ourselves, we divest our life in service for others, especially for the poor. This descent is to be continued in making ourselves servants and purveyors of care and nurture in order to deliver the maximum impact of unconditional love for others. Meantime, let us continue with that cleansing and purifying work of God in our lives this Lenten season. Amen.