Transfiguration of the Lord

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

First reading: Dn. 7:9–10,13–14

As I watched: Thrones were set up and the Ancient One took his throne. His clothing was bright as snow, and the hair on his head as white as wool. His throne was flames of fire, with wheels of burning fire. A surging stream of fire flowed out from where he sat; thousands upon thousands were ministering to him, and myriads upon myriads attended him. The court was convened and the books were opened.

As the visions during the night continued, I saw: One like a Son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven. When he reached the Ancient One and was presented before him, the one like a Son of man received dominion, glory, and kingship. All peoples, nations, and languages serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed.

Second reading: 2 Pt. 1:16–19

Beloved: We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that unique declaration came to him from the majestic glory, “This is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven while we were with him on the holy mountain. Moreover, we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable. You will do well to be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 

Gospel: Mt. 17:1–9

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. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone.

As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, “Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

In other words

by Fr. Dionisio M. Miranda, SVD (Divine Word Seminary Tagaytay, Tagaytay City)

One of the recurring pleasures of a school head is handing out diplomas and certificates at graduation. True, some students come upstage nervous and tense, but they often climb down the stairs grinning from ear to ear. Parents called to pin medals on their kids are particularly happy, the joy, contentment, and pride radiating from their faces. Everyone is resplendent in their new shirts and pants, first high heels or jewelry, fresh haircut or makeup, and so on.

Specially touching for me was a widow, clearly of modest background and means, who accompanied her son with unassuming dignity and deep pride shining from her eyes. It was she who made me ponder on the extraordinary sacrifices parents often make to give their children the best education they can afford, and thus have every right to savor the psychic rewards of their own “graduation.” Seeking her out after the ceremonies, it was clear that hers came close to what psychologists call a “peak experience” since she virtually recreated the presence of a husband and father lost too early.

Even among peak experiences, a very rare and special type is the “liminal experience,” where a person senses oneself crossing the threshold between the visible and invisible, when time stands still while past fuses with the present and both with the future. Imagine a mother gazing with wonder and love at her sleeping infant and realize its allusion to that moment when one comes face-to-face with the Holy.

Evidently those human experiences cannot compare with the transcendental experience of Jesus as he was baptized by John at the Jordan, when the heavens majestically opened, when the Father unconditionally embraced his beloved Son, when both of them relished the gravity of the mission Jesus was accepting. Since then, three years had swiftly passed, and the mission was maturing to its climax. So vital was the decision to enter Jerusalem now that the Father must have felt the need (or so we can only humanly imagine), to reassure Jesus that he remained the Beloved Son, and that Abba stood by him in seeing his mission to the end.

At our baptism into the Church so too were we declared the beloved sons and daughters of God through Jesus. Whether we actually grow to deserve the same title in the course of our lives and towards the close of our earthy journey all depends on our acceptance and fidelity to whatever mission we realize we received from our Father-God. Therein lies our own transformation, with or without the benefit of a transfiguring experience.

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