Wednesday, March 12, 2014

2nd Sunday of Lent (A) - Lord, it is good that we are here.

Mt. 17:1-9
March 16, 2014

GOSPEL READING: The Transfiguration of Jesus

After six days 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. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him. “When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid. “And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone. As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, “Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

REFLECTION: Lord, it is good that we are here.

Few years ago, I had the privilege of joining the summer retreat of our Institute’s International Juniorate held in Algarrobo, a popular place for summer homes by the ocean in Valparaiso, Chile. It's a place where anyone, especially the nature lovers, could actually experience the closeness of the presence of God. We stayed in a cozy, simple summerhouse located on the slope of a hill overlooking the calm ocean and serene white sandy beach, which combines the sea and country landscape. This retreat was totally different. It was the most unique and memorable retreat I ever had. We were the ones who pleasurably and delightfully prepared our daily international cuisine. To attend masses in the nearby churches, we had to make our morning stroll for about an hour while savoring the aroma of pine trees and the cold breeze of the day. Our morning and evening prayers, including our meditation, recitation of the rosaries and spiritual readings were spent either in our own cells or on the beach while enjoying the soothing sound of the waves gently lapping on the shore, of the colorful yachts sailing and of the calls of the birds which creates a peaceful mood. When we had enough time, we also went on trekking and wandering on the rocky part of the beach. A wonderful way of encountering the Lord! Such a good place to stay forever!

         “Lord, it is good that we are here.” Jesus’ transfiguration before the very eyes of the apostles was a special moment in their lives. For the first time, they witnessed the divinity of Jesus in all His glory. Jesus is not merely a human being. He belongs to the sphere of God; He is the Son of God. It was a captivating experience that Peter was overjoyed with the presence of the vision; he even asked to make three tents and settled down with Jesus right there to bask in the glory, to experience the bliss permanently. We can identify with Peter’s sentiments. Peter’s cry of joy often resembles ours when God gives us consolations. As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI says, the Transfiguration reminds us that the joys sown by God in life are not the finishing end of our lines; rather they are lights He gives us in our earthly pilgrimage in order that “Jesus alone” may be our Law and His word the criterion that directs our existence.

         The Transfiguration event happens after Jesus’ predicted His paschal mystery. Jesus’ revelation of His eventual passion must have scared the apostles. Jesus revealed His glory to His apostles to fortify them with inner strength and sustain them during later trials and especially prepare them for the scandal of the cross.

         Jesus led the apostles up on a high mountain by themselves. It was an invitation for a journey away from the world and up back to God. It is the journey within one’s good self, to one’s inner self, and up to God. It is an image of contemplation. But contemplation does not mean isolating oneself from the world and from its contradictions. On the contrary, it leads back to the journey and to action.

To remain within the tent cannot be forever. Peter cannot cling to the pleasure of contemplation. He must come down from the mountain. The Life came down, that He might be slain; the Bread came down, that He might hunger; The Way came down, that life might be wearied in the way; the Fountain came down, that He might thirst; and do you refuse to labor? 'Seek not your own.' Have charity, preach the truth; so shall you come to eternity, where you shall find security (St. Augustine, Sermon 28 on the New Testament). Security is what we want, but we sometimes seek it by trying to get away from the problems of the world. But it is not about fleeing from the world…

         A retreat is just one of the many ways of scaling the mountain to meet God in prayer and contemplation. In as much as we longed to stay in an amazing place such as Algarrobo, we cannot remain there forever. Facing the demands and challenges of our daily life situation is an opportunity of encountering our Lord. Recognizing His presence in our daily trials, temptations, sufferings and joy, hardships and tribulations is an invitation for us to have a deeper faith and trust in Him. It is an experience of the transforming power of His presence that could lead us to an authentic life, towards transfiguration. We who are challenged to continuously scale the mountain in order to meet God, may we never forget the need to come down from the mountain to serve our brothers and sisters with the love of God and with the strength we have drawn from Him. In doing so, we will be able to proclaim every experience we have, whether joyful or sorrowful, “Lord, it is good that we are here.”


SR. MARIA ANNABELLE MURILLO, OP is a member of the Congregaci√≥n de Religiosas Misioneras de Santo Domingo. She is a student of the Institute of Preaching.


Transfiguration, Cycle A, Lent,  OP Sisters, Contemplation, Recognition, Challenge, Retreat

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