Gen 12:1-4; Tim 1:8-10; Mt 17:1-9
At the bottom of a pond some little grub larvae of dragonflies are crawling around in the mud. They wonder what happens to their members who climb up the stem of the water lily and never come back. They agree among themselves that the next one who is called to the surface will come back and tell them what happened. The next grub worm that finds itself drawn to the surface by nature, crawls out on a lily leaf and
emerges from its last molting skin as a beautiful adult dragonfly. It has been dark and murky down below, but the dragonfly sees that everything is bright and sunny in the upper world. Suddenly something begins to happen. The transformed grub spreads out two huge beautiful colored wings and flies back and forth across the pond to convey the glad tiding of its transfiguration to its friends. It can see the other grubs in the pond below, but they can’t see him. He also realizes that he cannot dive into the pond to convey the glad tidings of his great transformation. A similar transfiguration takes place in human life too. When man meets God, his life is transformed.
The common theme of today’s readings is metamorphosis or transformation. The reading from Genesis explains how blind obedience to God transforms the childless and pagan Abram into the Abraham who became the prototype of trusting faith and the father of God’s Chosen People. Today’s passage is really the first encounter between Abram and God. Abram was prosperous in land and livestock, but he had no children, and that, to people of his time, was the most serious of all possible deprivations. So God challenged him with an offer: "I will make of you a great nation." But God's requirements were absolute: "Go forth from the land of your kin." The requirements were to become even more absolute when, after Abraham finally had a son, God asked him to sacrifice that same son (Genesis 22:1-18). God asks us, too, to leave our old life of sin behind and go forth with Him into a period of repentance, renewal of life and transformation.
The Gospel tells of the scene of heavenly glory of Jesus. The disciples received a preview of the glorious figure Jesus would soon become at Easter and beyond. While praying, Jesus was transfigured into a shining figure, full of heavenly glory. This reminds us of Moses and Elijah who also experienced the Lord in all His glory. Moses had met the Lord in the burning bush at Mount Horeb (Exodus 3:1-4). After his later encounter with God, Moses' face shone so brightly that it frightened the people. Elijah had traveled for forty days to Mt. Horeb on the strength of the food brought by an angel (1 Kings 19:8). At Mt. Horeb, Elijah sought refuge in a cave as the glory of the Lord passed over him (1 Kings 19:9-18).
Man is transformed in the presence of God. Each sacrament that we receive transforms us. Baptism, for example, transforms us into sons and daughters of God and heirs of heaven. Confirmation makes us the temples of the Holy Spirit. By the sacrament of reconciliation, God brings back the sinner to the path of holiness. By receiving the sacrament of the anointing of the sick in faith we are physically and spiritually healed and our sins are forgiven. In marriage man is entrusted with the creative power of God. In the Sacrament of Eucharist and Holy Orders a total transformation of week human beings takes place.
We need these 'mountain-top’ experiences in our own lives. At the Transfiguration of Jesus Peter cried out “It is good to be here.” That should be our response too when we come into contact with the presence of God. All the great men reached the point of glory at the time of prayer. So when our community comes together in prayer this transformation will take place within ourselves, in our parish, and in our community as a whole.