“Filipinos worry more than others, survey says”

Christ’s Transfiguration, Assurance of Our Own Transfiguration
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe, Week XVIII-A, 06 August 2017
Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14//2Peter 1:16-19//Matthew 17:1-9

The news headline caught my attention last Thursday morning after breakfast. At that time, I was also worried with a lot of things in my life and our parish. Unfortunately, the news did not help me a bit with my concerns because it simply said that “the Philippines topped the list of 13 countries” surveyed online by Unisys Security Index with “Filipinos worried most about natural disasters and identity theft among the list of security concerns that also included paying debts, personal safety and online shopping.” http://business. worry-others-survey-shows)

No explanation was given in the report about the security index survey that I felt was so “burgis” (bourgeois). The worries it cited are not typically Pinoy, except for natural disasters and paying debts that are a given in our long list of problems in daily living than security theft and online shopping. At least, the survey confirmed that life is so difficult for us Filipinos. Many of us today are going through various tribulations in life and could be on the verge of despair or losing faith. There are some who may be deeply worried with harsher realities in life that could spell death – literally or figuratively speaking like a dying loved one or losing one’s job or a split in marriage. The real good news this Sunday is not in the different media platforms but in our celebration of the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord which assures us of victory over all these miseries and problems we face daily.

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, one for Elijah.”(Mt.17:1-4)

Every Second Sunday of Lent, we hear the Transfiguration story in preparation of the Easter celebration. In the light of Easter during the Ordinary Time, we celebrate this feast every August 6 to remind us not only of the daily pasch we have to go through but most of all of our assured victory in Christ. The mountain is not only an image of our struggles and trials but also the presence of God in Jesus Christ amid our many hardships in life. Every time we hurdle a difficulty in life, we are transfigured like Jesus Christ, becoming “God’s indwelling” or tent. This is the meaning of Peter’s statement during the Transfiguration, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, one for Elijah.”

It was the final day of the Jewish Feast of Tents also known as Tabernacles or Booths (sukkoth in Hebrew) when Jesus brought the three disciples along on top of Mt. Tabor to be transfigured. During the wanderings years of the Israelites in the desert, God ordered Moses to pitch a tent where the Ark of the Covenant was placed. It became the presence of God (shekinah) among the Israelites in the wilderness signified at daytime by a white cloud hovering over it as they journeyed towards the Promised Land. When the clouds covers the Tabernacle or Tent, Moses would get inside to receive instructions from God and the Israelites halt their journey. At night, a pillar of fire would hover over the Tent as a sign of God’s presence. Later it came to be known simply as the “Dwelling” of God referring to His presence. These were the thoughts going through Peter when Jesus transfigured, thinking it must be the fulfillment of the “dwelling” of God among them. Peter wanted to preserve the event, to keep God present by offering to build a tent each for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. He would only realize the meaning of the event he had witnessed after Easter when “the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

While he (Peter) 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.”(Mt.17:5-9)

Every time we feel giving up, when things are breaking apart in our personal life, in our family or in the country, even in the Church when we see Jesus “dead” on the Cross – let us summon up from our innermost depths the powerful revelation of the Transfiguration that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the “Word who became flesh and pitched his tent (dwelt) among us.”(Jn.1:14) We are the indwelling, the very tent of God in Jesus especially after receiving Him Body and Blood in Holy Communion. May we listen to Him by obeying His words to “deny self, take up your cross, and come follow Him” no matter how difficult our journey may be. Jesus is the only One who would give us the strength to climb the heights of any mountain, to hurdle every obstacle in life because He is the only One Who had triumphed over sin and death. That is the meaning of His Transfiguration, the only path to our own transfiguration too.

Yesterday was the feast of our patron, St. John Vianney who wrote that our glorious duty in life is to pray and to love (Office of Readings). He explained that when we pray, God “stretches our small hearts to make it capable of loving God”, adding that “prayer never leaves us without sweetness.” Recall your most trying moments in life when you held on no one except Jesus Christ. Remember how after everything have passed, like the three disciples on Mt. Tabor, we see no one else except Jesus, touching us, making us savor that sweetness St. John Vianney is saying that “makes everything sweet” even trials and sacrifices because we have been transfigured in Him! Alleluia!

Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II,
Parokya ni San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista,
Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan