Dear Friends in Jesus Christ…,
You may ask why we have this gospel passage of the transfiguration of Christ in the Lenten season. There’s reason why the transfiguration is placed among the Lenten readings. It’s because the transfiguration bears a striking similarity to the agony in the garden. Like the agony in the garden, which took place on a mountain – the Mount of Olives, the transfiguration also took place on a mountain – Mount Tabor. And like the agony in the garden, the transfiguration was witnessed by only three disciples: Peter, James, and John. And like the agony in the garden, which took place at night, the transfiguration also took place at night. And in both instances the disciples fell asleep while Jesus remained awake, praying. Finally, and here’s the important reason, the two events – the agony and the transfiguration – complement each other. On Mount Tabor the three disciples saw Jesus in a moment of ecstasy, when his divinity shone through in a way that it had never done before. On the Mount of Olives, on the other hand, they saw Jesus in a moment of agony, when his humanity shone through in a way that it had never done before. Mount Tabor and the Mount of Olives reveal in striking contrast the humanity and the divinity of Jesus. The two mountain events are inseparable sides of the same coin. They show us the total Jesus in a total way: his humanity and his divinity. And it’s right here that these two mountain events contain an important, practical message for us. Like Jesus, we too have a twofold dimension about us. There is in each one of us something that is human and something that is divine. There is in each one of us a spark of Adam and a spark of God. Like Jesus on Mount Tabor, we too experience moments of ecstasy, when the spark of God shines through so brightly it almost blinds us. We feel so close to God that we feel we can reach out and touch him. During these moments, we marvel at how beautiful life is. We love everyone. WE hug our friends and forgive our enemies. On the other hand, like Jesus on the Mount of Olives, we also experience moments of agony. During these moments, the spark of Adam surfaces so sharply in us that the spark of God flickers and almost dies. During these moments, life is miserable. We feel that no one loves us. We find fault with our friends, and we curse our enemies. We doubt whether God actually exists. When these moments of agony and ecstasy come, we should recall the two mountains: Mount Tabor and the Mount of Olives. We should recall that Jesus too experiences these same high points and low points in his life. We should remember something more important. We should remember that on both occasions, during his ecstasy on Mount Tabor and during his agony on the Mount of Olives, Jesus prayed. If prayer was the way Jesus responded to these moments, then it should be the way we respond to them too. And if we do, like Jesus during his transfiguration on Mount Tabor, we too will hear our Father say to us, “this is my chosen Son.” And like Jesus during his agony on the Mount of Olives, we too will experience the tough of our Father’s healing hand.
Let’s close with a prayer: God, our Father, let us know moments of ecstasy like the one Jesus knew on Mount Tabor. When these moments come, let us do what Jesus did. Let us turn to you in prayer and let us hear you say to us, “You are my chosen child.” And, Father, in the same way, when moments of agony come to us, as they did to Jesus on the Mount of Olives, let us do what Jesus did. Let us turn to you in prayer. And let us feel the touch of your healing hand.
God Bless You,