Second Sunday of Lent - 2007
Dear friend, this Sunday we have the
major theme of the Transfiguration of our Blessed Lord.
Don’t just dwell on the transfiguration theme. Try to
link the theme to all the readings including the Psalm.
Therefore I have given a short introduction to all the
liturgical material, which will help you to prepare your
You promise some one something and you fulfil if you are
a righteous man or woman. Papa promises a bycicle to the
son if he were to get good marks in the school. Mom
promises her daughter a good dress if she were to get a
first class in her exams. Well, promises kept really
The first reading contains a particularly
momentous episode in the history of all Jews and
Christians: God is giving to Abraham the promise of
Offpring and of Land. Abraham accepts this promise of
God in a spirit of faith. This faith of Abraham is an
act of trust in a promise which, from the standpoint of
humans, could never be fulfilled. The text says that in
reply to Abraham's faith God "reckoned this act to
Abraham as uprightness". That is to say, this act is
added to Abraham's existing integrity of life and
submission to the divine will, the aspects of human
existence which make a person pleasing to God. The
passage concludes with an allusion to an ancient ritual
involving a "covenant" or legal arrangement with God
which solemnizes His relation with Abraham.
The responsorial psalm takes up the reading from the
standpoint of Abraham and shows how we should center our
faith on God alone so that we too can have our integrity
of life and submission to the divine will reckoned by
God as something which is pleasing in His sight.
18Philippians 3,17 – 4,1
The passage from Paul's Letter to the Philippians warns
against taking the things of this world as the most
important things in our lives. For us Christians the
real home is heaven, and the things which should be most
important even in our lives here below are the things
that really help us come closer to God and neighbour.
From above God will come to transfigure our earthly
bodies into copies of his glorified body. Our task here
in this world is to transform the world and make it a
better place to live.
I met a lady in our parish who is totally disfigured
because of a fire accident in her home a few years ago.
She actually suffers a lot due to the weakness of her
skin that tries to cope up with the fluctuating weather
conditions. But I can still see her beatiful smile
whenever she comes to talk to me. I can imagine her
pain, sorrow, her fears, but the heavenly smile she
carries with her. I am convinced that she is totally
transfigures from within her heart, to accept such
difficult situations in life
Transfiguration in our Daily Lives:
You transfigure, while disciplining yourself.
Once a young boy came to me asking how he
could study. I told him that he needs to work hard,
read, byheart and then write. Well, the boy returend
after his exams and said to me that his exams went on
very well, and he wrote all the answers.
A fat man asked me how he could reduce
weight, and I replied him saying that he needs to walk
daily 45 minutes, and take less food at night and then
avoid fat filled food. What a transformation, he comes
back after a month to show that he had lost more than 8
Once a young man by name Norbert asked me
how he could overcome the vice of anger. I told him that
there is no medicine for anger. He needs to work at it.
I told him that he will never succeed in changing the
world. He needs to accept certain realities as they are
and change wherever he can bring a change without
violence. I told him that he could not certain of his
own habits over night. So there are people around us who
have certain habits that anger us, and we cannot change
them over night. He writes me through email that he is a
better person now.
This is I call transfiguration in our
daily life. No one can help us, we need to help
The Transfiguration event is the culmination of what
Jesus and the three disciples experience on their way to
this Holy Mountain. This was the second mountain in the
life of Christ, soon after the preaching experience on
mount of Beatitudes. There would be another one, the
third, would lead him to the most painful experience of
his life, Crucifixion. Between the first and the last
there is the mount of Tabor. There are three important
moments in this entire episode. The first is going up
the mountain; the second is staying on the
mountain; the third is coming down the mountain.
All these three moments were an intense and
interconnected experience of all the four: Jesus,
Apostles Peter, James and John.
Going Up the Mountain
Jesus was a man of creativity. He did at times take
certain initiatives that were confusing to the minds of
the apostles. This time it was climbing the mountain.
Just imagine when someone asks you to climb a mountain
with you; what would be your reply? Oh, I do not have
time, I have to do this thing and that thing, and I have
no strength, I feel so tired and have no enthusiasm, let
us climb it on another occasion etc. etc. Jesus
literally insisted that they climb the mountain
together. Probably it was hard for Jesus to convince
especially Peter. We find here a company of Apostles who
are young, old and energetic and also ambitious. If you
recall well, John and James came with their mother to
claim special privileges with Jesus. Peter wanted to be
the first and also the most important one. He was also a
man of emotions; he would jump into to the sea to go
towards Jesus. He would say to Jesus “depart from me
Lord, for I am a sinner”; he is the one who also
promised that he would never part company with Jesus.
Promises, promises and promises, and what else? He was
the one who denied Jesus and ran away from his company.
Don’t you think this band of apostles selected were of
many complications? Yet Jesus chooses them to be with
him on his journey to Mount Tabor. He wants them to be
close to him when he has something very intimate to
share with His Father.
Climbing the mountain is a comparison that can enlighten
us. We climb always. We grow old and we climb the ladder
of knowledge, we climb up in status in our community and
we climb up in reputation and at times we climb up in
our experience of God. All these things are very
important. But there is one that is very essential; that
is climbing the ladder of spiritual formation.
Climbing is a tedious task. It requires energy, patience
and perseverance. We cannot climb up in our
intellectual, spiritual and moral life without efforts.
One thing we need to keep in mind, we should never give
up. No matter what are the conditions, you continue your
journey. If you are aware you will discover gradually
that climbing will illumine your path. If you had an
experience of climbing a mountain you could discover
that as you climbed a mountain you could see better the
areas surrounding the mountain, you have a better
perspective, and you literally begin to feel that it is
worth climbing, you feel refreshed and relaxed as you go
In our parish community we need to give up
individualistic ways of life. When we become too
egocentric we cannot hope to climb together. Gradually
we develop a kind of crab mentality, i.e. pulling down
those who are on their way up. That is what normally the
crabs do when they are put in a vessel. When one climbs
up the other pulls it down. Consequently we just live in
the same vessel never being able to see better things of
life. We need a network of being united in our effort to
grow up. We can never be satisfied with what personally
we achieve. We need the community for any step we take
in our life. The moment we take a step alone, we will
have to be sure that in all that we experience we will
be alone. We can try our best to climb all together.
Climbing signifies encouraging one another on the road
to sanctity, holiness, love and service. We can face
trials and temptations provided we can begin to share
our deepest longings and intentions. Mother Teresa once
said, “The biggest problem facing the world today is not
people dying in the streets of Calcutta, and not
inflation, but spiritual deprivation… This feeling of
emptiness associated with feeling separate from God, and
from all our sisters and brothers on planet earth”.
“Loneliness”, she said, “is like the leprosy of modern
times”. Mother Teresa was talking about the pain
associated with feelings of isolation and separateness.
These feelings are common to mankind. They can overtake
any one of us in a heartbeat, even in the very midst of
happiness and joy. Loneliness implies a lack of
meaningful connection. For most people it is a familiar
traveling companion. Even when we’re surrounded by
people we know, we can feel separate and apart. Separate
from what, we might ask? Separate from others, separate
from ourselves, separate from the divine, separate from
meaning, separate from love. Separate from a sense of
belonging. When we climb the ladder of our life we need
support and encouragement. We need guidance and
compassion. All these values will never come to us from
Staying on the Mountain
It requires tremendous strength to stay on the top. I do
not speak here of staying on the top of fame,
reputation, popularity and office. That could be easier.
Here I precisely speak of staying in our vocation, call,
prayer, sacrifice, self denial and holding on to the
values of our life. Have you seen a farmer tilling the
ground, waiting for rain, cultivating and expecting a
good crop? That is what we call a Herculean patience. We
all need to be like good farmers who have made patience
a part of their life. They never give up. They get up
early, work hard in the sun and rain, they feel one with
the mother earth and they experience the joy of working
at it. Have you seen a mother taking care of her baby?
This also should make us learn a lesson. What an amount
of patience, every moment of the day and night she will
have to put up with the entire crying, falling,
disturbing, dirtying etc. All is for the good of the
child. Often we Christians seem to forget the realities
of the world once we become a part of our daily life
style. We never consciously think how a father or mother
in a family has to stay on, being vigilant, alert and
watchful of all the affairs of their daily life. This is
literally called staying on.
now is on the mountain, with the three disciples. I am
not very sure whether Jesus took to praying immediately.
But that is what the Gospels tell us.
While Jesus was praying, his whole body filled with
light. It must have been a marvelous sight to behold.
Only a few get that privilege. Prayer enlightens the one
who prays and spreads the light to the one who is with
praying person. When one prays there cannot be class
conflict. There cannot be fights. There can be only awe
and glory. When we pray there is always light. There
cannot be darkness. Our being is enlightened. Praying is
always a way to light. Jesus came into this world to
bring light and He is the light. Now prayer can bring
light to the darkness of our life. Praying community is
an enlightened community. There is no darkness in it.
Our parish community must become the lighted city which
cannot be hidden.
was ecstatic. He uttered words of wisdom and he was
lifted up from the ordinary sense of experience. He
could not believe his eyes. He saw something which he
had not seen. Perhaps he was not even aware what he was
talking. On certain occasions in our life we become
ecstatic. These are momentary experiences. When we are
ecstatic we utter words perhaps do not mean anything.
For example whenever we celebrate our birthday, or feast
day or our jubilee we utter all praises to others.
Nothing bad comes from our mind or mouth. All seems
well. This experience is momentary. Soon the light will
fade and we will be thrown into ordinary situation of
life. That is the time we really live our life.
What are these booths? When we are well grounded on a
place then we think of booths. Booths signify security.
But look at Peter, he is not bothered about himself or
his companions, he wants build booths for Jesus, Moses
and Elijah. This is the true spirit of any consecrated
person. We need to build booths for Christ, and
Tradition of the Church. Whatever we have, it is from
the tradition of the Church and especially from the
source of that tradition i.e., Christ. Do we really
think of building booths for God? Not possible. The
booths must be built in our heart and no where else.
There is a great significance to the cloud. Cloud is
always identified with mystery. When we say the day is
cloudy, we do not seem to be too happy about it. Here
there was a cloud overshadowing the apostles. They were
afraid. Don’t we have clouds in our community? Whenever
we encounter strange situations and circumstances;
whenever we find it hard to understand the other person
in the community; when there are insecure moments of
relationship; we seem to be in clouds.
The voice tells us not to listen to anybody but Jesus
alone. Often in our life we try to listen to others
rather than to the voice of Christ through the Word of
God and through the liturgy. We are too much opinion
centered and we become slaves to the gossips of the
Fear and Trembling
The Voice of the Father made the three disciples fear
and tremble. That was the worldly fear. The voice of the
Father evokes fear in us when are not fully God
centered. When we are self-centered we are always
afraid. Only Jesus did not fear. The voice of the Father
can be heard on many ways. In the cry of our own
community members, in the cry of our neighbors and
neighboring homes, cry in poor families. The voice is
soft and really vibrating.
Do not be afraid
The assuring words of Jesus strengthened
the disciples. They were assured and cared for by Jesus.
This is the true way of Consecrated life, to assure
others. We need to be like Jesus assuring others in our
community. We are called to fill others with courage. It
is a sad experience that we who are supposed to be the
happiest people, have become tragically the saddest of
people. We who are supposed to be like Jesus trying to
solve the problems of people; never succeed in solving
our own problems throughout our life. How can we then
solve the problems of others, and instill in them the
power of God? Jesus says “do not be afraid”.
Coming Down the Mountain
They came down the mountain after this
marvelous experience of ecstasy, light, awe, and
presence of God. Jesus did not allow them to continue in
this experience. When we live in this world, heavenly
experiences do not last long, because we are in the
body. Spiritual experiences cannot be long lasting
unless otherwise willed by the Divinity. We need to come
down to ordinary realities of life. The daily life with
all its challenges, risks, pains and sorrows is truly
life of this world. When we are strengthened in the
grace, we can come down to daily realities of life
easily. We must be grounded on earth. When coming down
the mountain Jesus strictly warned the disciples not
tell about what happened on the mountain. He did not
want a fantastic experience to prolong or advertised,
rather asked them to keep it a secret until he is raised
from death. He wanted to be real. Hence he tells his
disciples that the Son of man must suffer and must die.
Jesus came to die. We all look forward to live. That is
the difference between us and Christ. Too many of us
resist authenticity, preferring instead an airbrushed
approach to the world. This is easy to do since we live
in a time where our values and our vision of reality are
influenced and shaped by images that are unreal and
false. We watch popular television shows, and we come
away thinking that everyone is supposed to be young,
beautiful, thin, and rich. We have a false view of a
world created by exhausted Hollywood values. We create
fantasies for ourselves based on what I call “false
reality.” Too many false things imbibed on a day-to-day
basis and we eventually become stupid in our approach to
realities of life. Reflect on the frustrations, joys,
and sorrows of real life. When you are sitting around
with nothing to do, and if your mind wanders, try to
keep it from getting caught up in fantasies of
perfection. Don’t get caught up in the sizzle; instead,
focus on substance and reality. It is right before you,
this very moment; don’t overlook it. This is what I mean
“coming down the mountain”. We need to be practical and
loving all the time. Community experience is coming down
from our own ego, selfishness and become service minded
as Jesus begins to serve the people after the Tabor
experience. Look at the face of the one who does not
like you, try to offer anonymous service in the
community, try to keep things in order, help someone who
is struggling with his/her responsibility. All these
ways are a help to come down from the mountain. How
beautiful our life would be if we were to do the work of
Christ after the Tabor experience?
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