In Exodus 34:29 and Acts 6:15, we read about how Moses and Stephen were transfigured and their face shone in the glory of God. In today’s gospel, Peter, James & John experienced the glory of God, manifested in Jesus and testified by Moses, representing the Law and Elijah, representing the Prophets. By God’s will, the disciples were experiencing a spiritual encounter and Peter was transfixed by what he saw and wanted to preserve that special experience in tents. He wanted to capture the moment and failed to realize this spiritual reality is not to be caged up but to be lived out. Why does God give us encounter moments and experience in life? The answer is that we will use it and allow it to make us better Christians. The excitement we feel will naturally go down and if we do not allow it to transform us, we will feel a sense of emptiness when it does go down. We cannot contain in a box God and the spiritual experiences, we need to live them out and allow it to transform us and the others around us.

In this season of lent, many of us would be making special effort to be closer to God, through prayers, fasting and works of service. As Easter approaches, we long to reach a spiritual high and to be able to experience God’s closeness & love. During this season it is good to ask ourselves, are our lives transfigured by the high points and experiences God grants us through our prayer life, penance and charitable services. Have they changed our lives or have we just remained on the sensation level, which will eventually go away.

We must remember that we are not in control of God encounters as they are solely dependent on him. They come as pure grace, as sheer gift, as we surrender and submit ourselves to the Lord in prayer. Should we feel disappointed or distant from God if we do not receive any spiritual encounter or experience as Easter approaches? Our spiritual closeness to God is not measured by these spiritual encounters. Sometimes in our spiritual dryness, when nothing seems to be happening, we continue to pray, continue to keep faith, keep obeying God and give Him the glory. If we feel good, then we continue praying maybe we are seeking the consolation of God rather than our Father himself.

We read in today’s gospel the revelation to the 3 disciples, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” is the same heavenly pronouncement at the baptism of Jesus in the river Jordan, when heavens opened and the Spirit of God descended upon Jesus and a revelation saying: “You are my beloved Son, in You I am well pleased” (MK 1:11). We also find the same message “Listen to him” in the old testament where Moses told the people, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him” (Deut 18:15). “Listen to him” was the key command God gave to the disciples in this transfiguration experience. In today’s 1st reading, Abraham in faith listened to God’s command to sacrifice Isaac. Jesus in obedience listened to God our Father and allowed Himself to be the sacrificial lamb on the cross. The message of today’s gospel is clear. To see, we need to observe. To listen, we need to be attentive. To experience, we need to submit and surrender our minds and hearts to the will of our Father. God our Father commands us to look at His Son, listen to His words and open our mind and heart to His presence. We may not all have the experience that Peter, James and John had on the mountain, but we can all listen to Jesus and allow His words to shape our lives, to inform our consciences, to warm our hearts and to guide our steps.

Vincent Chua and Jeffery Lio