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The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, Cycle A, 06 August 2023
Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14 ><}}}*> 2 Peter 1:16-19 ><}}}*> Matthew 17:1-9
Photo of the mosaic inside the Basilica of the Transfiguration on Mt. Tabor, Israel (from commons.wikimedia.org).

Today we take a break from our gospel readings to celebrate the Feast of Transfiguration (August 06) that falls on a Sunday this year. The segue fits perfectly the series of parables we heard these past three Sundays that mentioned judgment day at the end of time.

Recall how Jesus interpreted his parables especially the separation of the weeds and wheat at harvest time as well as keeping the good fish caught in the net, throwing the bad ones that all evoke of judgement day in the end of time. For Matthew, the transfiguration of Jesus is exactly about the end of time when Christ’s glory is revealed at his Resurrection and ultimately in his Second Coming.

Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother, John, 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.

Matthew 17:1-2

Mt. Tabor, believed to be the site of the Transfiguration of Jesus. Photo from iStockphoto.com.

In the Gospel according to Matthew, major events in the life of Jesus Christ mostly happened on a mountain: his temptation (Mt. 4:8), his inaugural teaching, the sermon on the mount (Mt. 5:1) and the sending of his apostles on their mission throughout the world until the end of time (Mt. 28:16).

Here at his transfiguration on top of the “high mountain” of Tabor we find glimpses of Christ’s explanation of the parable of the weeds among the wheat when he said that “the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Mt. 13:43). See how this transfiguration of the elect at the end of time that was shown to Daniel in the first reading is expressed exactly in the same way as that of the face of Jesus on Mount Tabor that had “shone like the sun” as witnessed by the three apostles. Peter strongly attested to it later as we have heard in the second reading.

Last week in the daily readings from Exodus we have heard how the face of Moses also shone like the sun after he had conversed with God on Mount Sinai and every time he would see God at his tent called the dwelling in their journey in the desert. That is the context why Peter volunteered to build three tents for Jesus, Moses and Elijah during the transfiguration. The Jews have a celebration called feast of booths or tents they called sukkoth. The tent is the dwelling place of God in the wilderness that eventually became the temple of Jerusalem. It was the closest thing they have with God and with heaven. At the transfiguration of Jesus, the three apostles were enthralled at the experience and sight they did not want to go down because it was literally heaven, being with God. The transfiguration event itself for them was the fulfillment of their faith and everything in the Old Testament.

They would realize later that to dwell with God means to continue the journey in Christ, with Christ marked with many ascents and descents happening not just in space or physically but more of the interior kind. That is how we are transfigured, always inside. Right in our heart and soul. That was the deeper meaning of Moses entering God’s dwelling in the desert – of him being one in God, with God – that his face would shone after, prompting him to cover it because people were scared.

Photo from custodia.org, Basilica of the Transfiguration on Mt. Tabor, Israel.

Whatever is found on the face is always a reflection of what is in the heart and soul. No amount of cosmetics and beauty procedures can ever bring out that glow and radiance of anyone’s face beaming with joy and fulfillment, peace and contentment.

The face is the reflection of the depths – or shallowness – of one’s heart and soul. There is an English word used to describe this inner dynamics of the face – countenance. Any change in our countenance indicates something is being transformed within us as a result of our communion with God. That is why we describe some people even we do not know them as malalim or deep, or magaling magdala ng problema because of their countenance. In the same manner, we easily notice something rotting inside a person when despite one’s having good features like flawless skin or aquiline nose, beautiful eyes and the like. This is what the young people would call as “uma-aura” when they pose for FB or IG. Aura is the spirit within evoked by one’s face that cannot be manipulated.

The face of Jesus shone like the sun at his transfiguration primarily because deep inside him is his complete and perfect union in the Father. Jesus would always insist on this reality within him, his perfect communion in the Father from which also flows his total obedience which will reach its highest point at his Passion and Death on the Cross, his own Pasch or exodus.

There at Mount Tabor in his transfiguration, we are shown that Christ’s glory cannot be separated from the Cross. His majesty and triumph shall come from his pasch. And so are we his disciples. That is why the voice heard by the apostles said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to him”. From now on, Christ would be speaking of his coming Passion, Death and Resurrection. All his lessons after Mount Tabor are about our participation in his paschal mysteries. Do we listen?

The apostles learned and embraced all these lessons in a process slowly with the guidance of the Holy Spirit after Pentecost. That is why Jesus told them to come down from Tabor to continue their journey to Jerusalem to fulfill his mission. Through them we have believed despite our not having seen Jesus that is how he would appear as “Lord” on the mountain that we the faithful are climbing to participate in the ultimate manifestation of his return at the end of time.

And there lies the good news of this Feast of Transfiguration happening in this dry month of August, often described as ghost month too. As we go through the last half of Ordinary Time’s remaining 17 weeks, may we continue to ascend in Christ, with Christ with his Cross in sharing his paschal mysteries in our daily lives. After the euphoria of Easter Season that had closed on Pentecost Sunday, we are reminded anew this sixth of August to never lose sigh of the Cross of Good Friday as our path to glorious transfiguration of Jesus Christ.

To journey with Christ, listening and obeying his voice is something of the inside and not just of space or place. Discipleship demands persistent practice of the Lord’s teachings and examples as we shall hear from the gospel these coming Sundays.

As COVID-19 virus wanes that we resume most of our activities minus the many protocols before while still being cautious and careful, may we face our inner issues in Christ and the Holy Spirit to be transfigured in him. Amen. Have a blessed week ahead. It is a Sunday, celebrate Mass with others in your Parish, pray for those still suffering from the effects of typhoon Egay and Falcon.

Painting of the Transfiguration by Italian artist Duccio di Buoninsegna between 1308 and 1311 from commons.wikimedia.org.
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