A reading from Matthew 17
Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is well that we are here, if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah. He was still speaking, when lo, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
God the Father spoke only twice in the Synoptic Gospels and only once did He give us a command directly: “Listen to Him.” The Blessed Mother spoke seven times (Mothers always have more to say than Fathers) but only once, at the wedding of Cana, did Mary address us: “Do whatever He tells you.” The Mother’s plea at Cana is confirmed by the Father’s command at Mt. Tabor: “Listen to Him.”
Are people today listening to Jesus? Do we follow whatever He tells us? Obviously not, because according to three world leaders our human civilization is in great peril today.
There is unpeace everywhere. The United States President says that there is a grave and immediate danger from weapons of mass destruction including nuclear and biological weapons. And he wants to go to war to prevent their use.
The United Nations Secretary General says that more than one billion people live in extreme poverty and degradation and this presents a grave threat to the security of societies and world peace as it could cause some poor countries to collapse into conflict and anarchy.
At the beginning of the New Millennium, the Holy Father said, “Humanity stands at a crossroads. We are the men and women of an extraordinary time, exhilarating yet full of contradictions. Humanity now has the instruments of unprecedented power; we can turn this world into a garden, or reduce it to a pile of rubble.”
Three powerful leaders, all giving us the same warning: we live in perilous times that could reduce the world to a pile of rubble. What has this to do with the Transfiguration? It has everything to do with it.
The Apostles Peter, James and John were given the grace to see Jesus transfigured in His holiness. He was dazzling as the sun, radiant with light. The Apostles were given a preview of heaven. And when His hour had come, Jesus brought the same three apostles to the Garden of Olives so that they could also be witness to his agony when his countenance was no longer dazzling and radiant, but disfigured with sorrow in
a sweat of blood, desecrated by the sins of the world. At Mount Tabor, He was glorified, transfigured in holy light. At Mount Calvary, He was crucified, disfigured by the horror of sin.
At Mt. Tabor, the apostles were awed by His grandeur and wanted to pitch tent and bathe in His glory. At Calvary, he was a criminal scorned, scourged, stripped and crucified, and His Apostles fled in fright, except for John and His Mother Mary and Mary Magdalene, three contemplatives who lived the Sorrowful Mysteries with Him, who walked the way of the cross to Calvary with Him, who listened to Him as He hung on His Cross and loved Him to the end.
Today, Jesus is again disfigured, defiled and crucified by our society. Go to Payatas and you will see Him disfigured. Watch television, go to the movies, read a magazine and you will see Him defiled. Visit an indigenous peoples village in Mindanao, ravaged and burnt to the ground by the goons of political lords, and you will see Him crucified.
And like the apostles at the Crucifixion, we run away. And He speaks to us from the Cross of His new crucifixion, but we are not there to listen to Him. The Holy Father sees the perils we face; he sees the need for us to be transfigured in spirit and transformed in life. He gifts us with the new Mysteries of Light to clothe us with the light of the Lord. He says that the Transfiguration is the Mystery of Light par excellence as Our Lord was transfused with light, revealing “the glory of the Godhead.” In the darkness that surrounds us, he wants us to see the beauty of the Godhead shining forth from the face of Christ that we may persevere. Let us CONTEMPLATE, PRAY and LIVE these Mysteries of Light to enable Jesus and Mary to transform us in holiness, a people of light transfigured to do battle against the dark forces of evil.
Jesus said: “I am the light of the world, he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (Jn 8:12) Lord, transfigure our souls to be radiant with your light, transform our lives to conform with the Father’s will, as we pray:
Our Father, Ten Hail Marys, Glory Be (to be sung)
Howard Q. Dee
Launching of the Year of the Rosary and the Mysteries of Light
EDSA Shrine of Mary
October 31, 2002