Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord
August 6 2107
We love mountains, especially Philomena and the kids. When we were living in Calgary, we went to Banff at least once a month. It’s only an hour drive. I love The Three Sisters, a trio of gorgeous peaks near Canmore, a resort town just outside the Banff National Park. We almost bought a three bedrooms time-sharing unit facing the trio but by divine providence, we didn’t and the developer went bankrupt two years later when the oil price collapsed. I always visualize the top of the Three Sisters is like the place of transfiguration especially when the sun shines on them. “And (Jesus) was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.” (Matthew 17:2-3, Gospel reading).
Peter, James and John felt exuberant with their mountaintop experience in today’s Gospel. They saw Jesus transfigured. “Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” (Matthew 17:4) But they couldn’t do that. They had to come back to the real world where people continue to search for the experience of God. I am sure the excitement the disciples felt on top of that mountain was infinitely much better than the one I felt on the Three Sisters, but the feelings we have whenever we sense the Presence of the Divine, the Presence of Jesus among us and within us are far supreme, beyond belief and description. We feel it sometimes during a Parish Mission, or a retreat, sometimes during big celebrations at Christmas, Easter, sometimes at special prayer events like the Search, Live-in, Shalom Conference, Eucharistic Adoration, or it will come even during an ordinary daily Mass. The feeling of peace, joy, love, care and mercy. We feel being next to Jesus. However, if we are serious about our faith, we need to be with Jesus Christ in every aspect of our lives and not just at Parish Missions and Prayer Events. We will frustrate ourselves if we are holy only on the “mountaintop” but not when we leave the mountain. We become bitterly disappointed when we look for feelings instead of God. We need to nourish the Presence of the Lord and bring this Presence to others.
Christ came to the world to bring His Joy, Happiness, Peace and Presence to all people. As his disciples, do we do this too? The Old Testament Book of the Prophet Micah said it well. “What does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8). To do justice means that we treat others as God treats us. Remember the parable of the steward who was forgiven a great debt but refused to forgive another man who owed him a pittance? He did not treat others as His master treated him and was punished by his master. Remember the Good Samaritan who brought God’s mercy and compassion to someone who needed help, even though that person might have grown up hating the Samaritans? To do justice means to bring to others the love and compassion we have received from God. To love kindness, we need to learn from Jesus. I am sure that if anyone were to ask the original disciples what was Jesus like when they spent those three years with Him, they would have said, “He was kind.” What about the woman caught in adultery, shamed in public and was condemned to death? Jesus forgave her sins and was kind to her. How about the way he reached out to Peter, a disciple who publicly denied him three times? He forgave him too and made him the Rock of His Church.
Micah says that we are to walk humbly with our God. We need to point to His presence in our lives and recognize how just, kind and good He has been to each of us. We need to let people know that just as His Love has overwhelmed us, He will overwhelm them too. We need to walk with Him humbly recognizing who we are: sinners whom He is turning into saints. “And He walks with me. And He talks with me. And He tells me I am His own. And the joy we share as we tarry there. None other has ever known.” (lyrics, In the Garden, Ann Murray). We need to be happy. We do not walk alone. He is with us always, until the end of time. Everyone wants to be with people who are sincerely happy, people who know that God is with them.
As we allow Christ to walk with us and reign in our hearts more and more each day, we find that his influence affects not only our internal attitudes but also the people around us. This world becomes a more caring, compassionate place. People are reminded of God’s presence and love. This world becomes more a place where others can find God. It is a quiet transformation of the world, like the rising of the dough through the action of yeast. Am I constantly allowing the values of the Kingdom to transform the way I deal with others? Do I have confidence in the transforming power of the Gospel? I challenge you and myself too this week and the weeks to come to tell someone about the mountain, the transfiguration. Tell them about the experience we have with our Loving, Wonderful Saviour. Speak to them in a language they can understand: Be Just, Loving Kindness, and Walk Humbly with God.
-Deacon Raymond Chan