Life Is A Daily Lent of Ascent and Listening

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe-Lent II, 25 February 2018
Genesis 22:1-2, 9, 10-13, 15-18//Romans 8:31-34//Mark 9:2-10

Last week we claimed life is a daily Lent characterized by the desert or wilderness. On this second week of Lent, we hear the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ on Mt. Tabor. And we can rightly claim too that still, life is a daily Lent of ascent and listening to God: “Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them… Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud came a voice, ‘This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”(Mk.9:2, 7)

In the bible, the mountain is always a sign of getting close with God; to ascend or climb a mountain means to pray and be one with God. All prophets went up a mountain to pray and converse with God. And so did Jesus Christ too. Life indeed is so difficult like a trek up to a mountain that we need to pray always as anything worse could happen along the way. Hence, we say “handle life with prayer” and “never leave home without praying.”

On this Second Sunday of Lent, however, we are reminded not only of the importance of prayer in our lives but even invited by the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus to examine, even wonder about our faith in God, most especially our understanding of His Son Jesus Christ in the light of His Passion, Death and Resurrection. Have you ever experienced in life making a very difficult decision wherein you have to gather up all the courage to make that choice and put it into action when suddenly, somebody tells you to do something different, causing you to doubt everything again? It is not only very annoying but even disturbing that we question everything and everyone including God! That was the very situation of Abraham when God asked him to offer Him his son Isaac. Imagine how long Abraham had waited for the birth of Isaac then as he had matured God would ask him to be offered as a sacrifice? “What the…?” would probably be our reaction but not Abraham who passed with flying colors God’s severe test of faith on him. For his obedience to God, Abraham became the father of all nations the he is honored greatly not only by the Jews but also by Christians and Moslems.

So often in life, we are baffled with God’s ways in how things would turn out in our lives like when after experiencing His blessings there comes along the way some problems like sickness or failures and even death. Our faith in Him is tested whenever great trials come along especially during peak moments of our lives like after a promotion in our job or the wedding of a son or a daughter when suddenly crises spring up. It is the proverbial question of why do bad things happen to good people.

Similar with Abraham’s test of faith was the experience of Peter, James and John at the Transfiguration of Jesus when the Lord“charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, what rising from the dead meant.”(Mk.9:9-10) They could not understand how could Jesus be the Messiah if He were to suffer and die? They must be at a loss when Jesus spoke about His rising from the dead because they never thought, or could not accept at the time, that He had to suffer and die first. Before this scene on the mountain, they were at Caesarea Philippi where Jesus was identified by Peter as the Messiah, the Son of the living God. How could He die and rose from the dead? The Transfiguration itself was for them the realization of their hopes that one day they would experience God’s presence like at Sinai when Moses built a tent where he would meet God during their wandering in the desert. It then became the Feast of Booths of the Jews when they all hoped that one day God would dwell with them like with Moses in a tent and therefore experience final deliverance from all their woes in life. That is the reason why Peter offered to build booths or tents for the Lord, Moses and Elijah. He wanted to keep the experience permanent but alas, after the descent of a cloud and the voice, everything vanished. And the worst part was when Jesus charged them to keep it a secret not until His rising from the dead.

“Wow… so malabo naman ni Lord” is how the young would say today. They knew about the resurrection of the dead like us, but the existential thud within that it is the Lord who would die first was incomprehensible for them. Even for us today. The scandal of the Cross has always been looming behind since the first Christmas and now at the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ. The inconvenient truth of our faith clearly shown by the Transfiguration is the fact that Jesus could only be recognized correctly, truthfully in the light of His Cross. The same thing is true with our very life: it is not really about the questions of what we want in life but the question of whether we are willing to sacrifice, not just carry our cross but even die on that cross for our dreams and aspirations. Everybody wants to become successful in life, of getting rich and famous but do we have what it takes to realize our dreams and aspirations, of burning the midnightlamp, of sacrificing and foregoing many pleasures, taking many risks and being willing to go all over again to the very start in case of failures? So many people would want to have a glorious Easter Sunday but refuse to go through the Good Friday like those who would want to become rich by gambling or students who would want to pass exams and have allowances without studying and going to school. It is the culture of instant gratification, of instant coffee and instant everything.

This Second Sunday of Lent, we are reminded, even assured that life is not a bed of roses; it is a daily ascend to the mountain that is always difficult even dangerous. The rewards of “highs” and majestic views on top are assured to those willing to sacrifice, willing to listen to Jesus to join Him in His pasch. “If God is with us, who can be against us?”(Rom.8:31) Let us listen to Jesus today and follow Him to Easter via Crucis.

Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Parokya Ng San Juan Apostol At Ebanghelista
Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta.Maria
Bulacan 3022