There are moments in our lives that we feel jubilant, on cloud nine, and extremely happy, that we’d like to say, “it feels like heaven”. Fr. Ramil Marcos shared that after Cardinal Sin announced that the pope granted his (Fr. Ramil) wish for an audience with Pope John Paul II, he was “ebullient, thrilled, and awed by the prospect of a face-to-face meeting.” (“Sown on Rich Soil”, Fr. Ramil Marcos).
In the second Sunday of Lent, the Gospel proclaims the transfiguration of our Lord on Mount Tabor. Every time I listen to this, I am in awe of what a great experience it must have been for the select apostles Peter, James and John. In this mountain, Jesus was clothed in majesty. Here the Apostles were given a foretaste of Heaven, that Peter even went to the extent of suggesting that he “build three booths here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah” (Mt. 17:4).
The transfiguration reminds us of God’s awesome power and majesty. This tells us how infinite the distance is between God and us, His children. The voice from the cloud tells us, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” (Mt. 17:5). Listening to Jesus requires us to act; by following and placing our complete trust in His providence and mercy. As long as we put our efforts in our work, and as long as we put everything in God’s hands, He will take care of the rest. “Seek first his kingship over you, his way of holiness, and all these things will be given you besides.” (Mt. 6:33)
The transfiguration further tells us that when we live a life of faithfulness to the Lord, the people around us become blessed as well. Without our possibly noticing it, our love and concern for others, especially those in need; mirror and reflect Jesus in our lives. A life configured to Him makes us a beacon for others, a reflection of Jesus’ own. Following Jesus will need discernment and prayer, after which the Spirit will reveal His plans for us. It is common though that for most us, we make these plans ourselves, without even listening to what God’s plans are. To live a life of faithfulness to Him, it is important to know what He wants us to be.
At one Saturday, when me and my family heard Mass at the Sanctuario de San Antonio Church just after they fetched me from the airport, I had the privilege of listening to this Franciscan priest, who shared about a man he met, whose daily prayer is “Lord, please don’t change your plans for me”. As I reflected on that, I realize what a beautiful prayer it is! It speaks of trust, of confidence, and of faithfulness. Since then, I’ve adopted that prayer too, confident that “The Lord will complete what he has done for me”. (Ps. 138:8)
Many people spend so many years setting goals and plans for their lives, only to discover that what they thought they wanted wasn’t really what they wanted at all. Many people think that getting more possessions is the answer to the search for happiness and fulfillment, only to realize later that not all the wealth the world can offer guarantee real joy and satisfaction. It never occurred to them to consult God first, what His plans for them were. Most of us aren’t even aware that God created us for a specific purpose and that if we align ourselves with His plans for us, we would experience peace and contentment that can’t be achieved on our own.
This is the reason that we often don’t understand why problems happen, why this or that is happening despite our being “good”. This doesn’t mean though that for those who follow Jesus, life is free of problems. Far from it actually. But for those who have surrendered their lives to God, problems become easier and lighter knowing that He is a major part of the solution. They are fully aware that God is in control of all creation, such that pain and suffering is accepted joyfully and willingly as part of the cleansing process to attain God’s approval and mercy.
Just like most of us too, the apostles must have found it so difficult to understand the idea that Jesus will suffer trial and eventual death on the cross. At several points in our lives, we also feel confused and discouraged, especially when we are encountering a lot of challenges and problems. We feel low and at times we question why these are happening to us. “How can it happen to me, I’m a good person and yet I feel God isn’t around?” We may even have echoed Peter, who, in spite of his firm faith in Jesus, had so far no clear knowledge of the mission and work of the Savior. The sufferings of Christ especially, as contradictory to his worldly conception of the Messiah, were inconceivable to him, and his erroneous conception occasionally elicited a sharp reproof from Jesus:
“He began to teach them that the Son of Man had to suffer much, be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, be put to death, and rise three days later. He said these things quite openly. Peter then took him aside and began to remonstrate with him. At this he turned around and eyeing the disciples, reprimanded Peter: Get out of sight, you satan! You are not judging by God’s standards but by man’s!” (Mk. 8:31 – 34)
It is therefore important for us to recognize God’s kingship in our lives, know His plans for us, and trust Him to give us the happiness and fulfillment that we want. The thing is, if we will wholeheartedly commit our lives to the Lord and cooperate with His plans for us, He will “move mountains to ensure that His purpose for us is fulfilled”.
Following Jesus requires our complete trust in His power and dominion. We have to remember that a life of faithfulness to Jesus makes the lives of the people around us blessed. A life configured to Jesus makes us a beacon for others, a reflection of Jesus’ own. During this Lenten season, let us reflect on God’s majesty, discern His plans for us, and pray unceasingly to be steadfast and faithful to Him. We will not be afraid, as long as we have faith: “then he said to them, “Why are you so frightened? Have you still no faith?” (Mk. 4:40)
Fr. Armand succinctly said it, “Admittedly, life is often a struggle, because there is a dream to be pursued, a vision to be attained. It is a journey of countless steps, countless meaningful steps, but each one leading to another.”
Yes, despite the problems, the champion has chosen to be happy! We will find satisfaction and happiness in what we are doing. And no power on earth (and even in hell) will be able to keep God’s blessings from us!