Go, Rise and Shine
Fr Mike La Guardia, SDB, my spiritual director and confessor, gave me a necklace on which the Jerusalem Pilgrim’s cross is etched. Together with it is his written note, “Dear Erwin, let this cross remind you of the core of our being disciples of Jesus: paschal mystery. Fr Mike died last August 3. He was 56 years old. Paschal Mystery, what is this? Can we eat this? Can this make us rich? Can this be the solution to COVIC 19 pandemic?
Today’s Gospel reading goes straight to the glorious event when the disciples Peter, James and John saw Jesus being transfigured. They saw Jesus shining, shimmering and splendid. But why did Jesus allow the three to witness Him as clothed in glory? There is an inside story. Prior to this, Jesus told his disciples that as the Christ, He would experience suffering, rejection and even be put to death. There is no glory without sacrifice. No pain, no gain. The way to real glory is the cross. This is paschal mystery. The disciples could not stomach that Jesus as the Messiah had to suffer and to die. Because Jesus knew well his disciples, he allowed Peter, James and John to witness the glory that is assured to Jesus as well as to us who follow the Lord.
We do not have the same experience that of Peter, James and John. But our Lord’s transfiguration can be encountered by us if we learn how to transcend. How?
First, we can transcend if we see meaning in life. Paul Ricouer said that life is all about interpretation. Gifted with intellect and will that make us long for truth, goodness and beauty, we have the capacity not just to live but to live life meaning after meaning. Many are not happy because they think that life is all about eating and drinking, laughing and shopping. Do not just look for joy. Find meaning and you will not only experience joy but fulfillment.
Second, we can transcend if we have a sense of direction. Some say that life is empty because the weather is not fair. Question: Who chooses to feel empty, the weather or you/me? The disciples are chosen by the Lord, regardless of their personal limitations and weaknesses. In being chosen, they are loved. And first love never dies. If we are loved, this will give an impetus to proceed, to walk and to journey, not just anyhow, but with a sense of direction. The gift of vocation moves us to a direction called mission. We have a sense of direction, even if suffering is inevitable, because Jesus walks with us.
Third, we can transcend if we pray. Notice that Jesus climbed the mountain. In his intimate moment with the Father, he was transfigured. Prayer as a moment strengthens our day to day living as we work and relate, suffer and even grieve. Christian discipleship is never cheap. It can cost many things: property, achievements, relationship and even life. If paschal mystery is at the heart of Christian discipleship as Fr Mike wrote, then this life is never easy. It never seeks self-aggrandizement. It is less of me so that one can be more in God. Letting go and letting God is to let my ego go. This is painful. And so we must pray, not for perks and rewards, but for perseverance, for patience and for peace.
Paschal Mystery, what is this? Can we eat this? Can this make us rich? Can this be the solution to COVIC 19 pandemic? Witness the Lord’s transfiguration by learning and living how to transcend. Go with Jesus. Rise with Jesus. Shine with Jesus. Amen!
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