Transfiguration, peak and low moments

Word Alive By Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD — March 8, 2020 2nd Sunday of Lent

In 1993 when I did a post-graduate study at the University of Leicester in England, there was a British lady personnel named Joan with whom I occasionally talked about religion. “I find it hard to believe there’s Someone up there,” she said. “What I’ve gone through can’t make me accept God exists.”

“When I was 28 years old, my husband died in an accident; within that year, five of my relatives including my father and grandfather died.

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I thought it was the end. Just when I was recovering from the harrowing experiences, my father-in-law died. Last year my new husband who’s a truck driver…” she paused and I thought he died again. “… bumped an old man who died on the spot.” I breathed a sigh of relief; it was not the husband.

The story of Joan is just one of the many examples where our faith in God can be badly shaken.

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When this happens we long desperately for a sign that God is there and that Jesus is really a powerful, caring God.

This is one reason why Peter, James and John witnessed the Lord’s transfiguration in this Sunday’s gospel (Mt 17,1-9). The glorious transfiguration was a spiritual booster to strengthen the faith of his disciples in the days to come when he would suffer terribly and die in Jerusalem.

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This brings us to the reality of faith. The nature of faith is such that no matter how faithfully we live Christ’s teachings, there will be times when our faith will be shaken. It will seem to flicker and threaten to be extinguished, like Joan’s in the above story.

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Faith has peak as well as low moments. When low points of our faith come, like the sudden death of a loved one, a severe financial problem, a serious sickness, a failed marriage, we can’t help worrying but we should not be overwhelmed by them. Of course, human as we are, we feel discouraged but we should not despair. After we get over the emotional crisis, we should strive to remedy the problem and move on. In the darkest moment at the Last Supper when the Lord Jesus was going to be arrested, he said to his apostles: “Don’t worry. Have faith in me; have faith in my Father.”

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In his book Through the Eyes of Faith, Fr. John Powell relates about a friend George who had a coronary heart attack in his mid-thirties. He was so weakened that he could walk only short distances and had to live a sedentary life.

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Then in his forties, George had more than twenty operations for cancer of the face, including removal of his nose. George was asked if he ever lost faith in God. He replied: “No, never. These are the cards God gave me which I lovingly play.” Would we have the same faith as George have?

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As the Apostle James puts it: “Happy is the person who remains faithful under trials, because when he succeeds in passing such a test, he will receive as his reward the life which God has promised to those who love him” (James 1,12).

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LENTEN QUIPS: Did you know that Jesus mentioned “television” in the gospel? After the transfiguration, he said: “Tel-e-vision to no one” (Mk 9,9).

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“Looking at the way some people live, they ought to obtain an eternal fire insurance soon.”

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“If you’re headed in the wrong direction, God allows U-turns.”

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“Everybody thinks of changing humanity but nobody thinks of changing himself.” — L. Tolstoy.

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