Forgot your password?
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
  • default color
  • green color
  • red color

MabuhayRadio

Saturday
Nov 26th
Home Sections The Daily B.R.E.A.D. The Transfiguration Story: From Hope to Failure to Hope Again
The Transfiguration Story: From Hope to Failure to Hope Again PDF Print E-mail
User Rating: / 2
PoorBest 
Sections - The Daily B.R.E.A.D.
Saturday, 21 February 2009 05:13

(Sermon by The Rev. Dr. Winfred B. Vergara that will be delivered on February 22, 2009,
at the St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, Seaford, New York. Text Mark 9:2-9
)

 

“Rabbi, it is good for us to be here . . .” --Peter (Mark 9:5)

 

I like movies. It is my number-one entertainment. I often see movies with my wife, with my friends and even when alone. One of the things in movies nowadays is a preview. How many of you have seen a preview that reveals so much about the ending that you do not want to see the whole movie anymore?

 

That is exactly what happened to Peter in this story of the transfiguration. He saw the preview of the end. In the middle of the night on Mt. Tabor, Peter saw the resurrection! Jesus was with Moses, the icon of the law and Elijah, the icon of prophecy. Jesus as the “fulfillment of the law and the prophets” has risen from the dead!

 

The scene was so compelling that Peter did not want to see the other parts of the movie. He did not want to go down to the valley and to enter Jerusalem and to see Jesus suffer and die. So he said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” Let us remain on the mountain top!

 

* INSTANT GRATIFICATION

 

So many of us are like Peter. When we imagine our dreams, we do not want to face the reality in our lives. We want instant gratification. We want instant success without going through the boredom and difficulty of working for it. Like Peter, we want resurrection without the crucifixion; glory without the gore; gain without the pain; the star without the scar.

 

Today, we are just beginning to realize that one of the reasons of the current economic recession is because of a twisted value that has eroded the fabric of American culture. Real estate which was once associated with a healthy American dream had become a symbol of “get rich quick” speculation. Years ago in California and Nevada, people bought many homes not to live in but to gamble in investment. It jacked up the prices so much so that others hardly afford buying their own. Then banks and realtors conspired to offer “no down payment” schemes.

 

Wall Street in New York which was the symbol of healthy financial trading had become associated with “greed is good” mentality. Men like “Madoff” allegedly “made off” with billions of dollars from investors who wanted to cash in from instant and rapid returns. CEOs of companies, actors and actresses, sports celebrities receive gargantuan salaries and incomes making the rest of us envious. Millions of people were tempted to imitate the lifestyles of the rich and famous, using their credit cards to buy things they do not need with the cash they do not have. As the song says, “Everyone wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die.”

 

Many of us are like Peter . . . We want instant gratification. We want instant success without going through the boredom and difficulty of working for it. Like Peter, we want resurrection without the crucifixion; glory without the gore; gain without the pain; the star without the scar.

T he attraction for instant riches continues to feed on our greed and insatiable appetite to achieve a taste of success without going through the struggle. Gambling has become socially accepted. The Internet is filled with what is known as Nigerian scam. Every day you will find an email that says “I am the widow of President Idi Amin and now hiding in Nigeria. I have stashed away bullions of gold in Uganda and if you become my partner, I will give half of it to you. But first, you must give me your bank account and social security number so I will know how to transfer 50-million dollars to you.“ Amazingly, there are still some naïve ones who would fall victims to this scheme – because they dream of instant success.

 

Jesus had a word for Peter’s insistence to stay on the mountain top. “Get thee behind me, Satan, for you are not on the side of God but of men” (Matthew 16:23). We have to go down from this mountain into the valley; then we must enter the gate to Jerusalem; for there, I will be rejected, spat upon, betrayed, crucified, but on the third day, rise again!

 

THE PATH TO GLORY

 

The path to glory has to pass though the valley of struggle. Instant success will only result in instant loss.  Easy come, easy go. Lasting success, however, results from facing the harsh reality of life and transforming it. A husband was having difficulty in his marriage did not want to face reality that he needed counseling so he avoided his wife because as he said, “When I see her, I see one monster.” So he went to a nightclub to forget his wife. Finally, he came home drunk and sure enough, he did not see one monster but two monsters! Not facing the reality of life and dealing with it only multiplies a difficult situation.

 

The path to glory has to pass through the gate of trials and temptations. In our struggle, we are tempted to find an easy way out. When we are stressed and pressured, we succumbed to our fears. The genuineness of our faith is often tried and tested in the furnace of fire. If we are made of wood, then we will become charcoal; but if we are made of gold, then we will shine even brighter.

 

Peter represents not only the Pope but also the ordinary people of God. Peter was was fallen, he was weak, he was afraid, he was emotional, he was a failure, and he was ordinary. But in the unconditional mercy, love and grace of Jesus, God restored Peter and put in him back to the mountain top. In the history of human redemption, no one can take the place of Peter as one who has failed, repented, and restored.

Peter learned that lesson the hard way. At the Last Supper, Jesus announced his betrayal and Peter arose, “That shall not come from me!” Jesus replied, “Before the cock crows, you will deny me, three times.” Sure enough, when Jesus was betrayed by Judas and arrested by the soldiers, the apostles scattered. One man recognized Peter and asked, “Do you know that man?” and Peter replied, “No, I do not know him.” Another said, “I saw you with that man Jesus” and Peter replied, “That was not me.” Again someone said, “Surely you know Jesus, even your accent sounds like his” and again Peter said the third time, “I do not know that man.” And the cock crowed.

 

* THE DENOUEMENT

 

Let me go back to the analogy of the movie. The story of transfiguration faced the climax of tragic death and ended in the triumph of resurrection. But there is what is called a “denouement,’ the postlude if you may, of the story. That’s what I never fail to see; what eventually happened to the characters at the end of the movie?

 

Peter’s denouement was the realization that he had failed and so he went back fishing. That’s what happens when we lost our homes, our jobs or investments. We go back fishing. At least it’s better than jumping in the lake or falling from a New York building. But Peter also realized that God is a God of a second chance and unlimited forgiveness. By the Sea of Tiberias, Peter fished and caught nothing but the risen Lord appeared and said, “Peter, put your net on the other side.” When Peter obeyed, lo and behold---a huge catch of fish like never before. Then Jesus restored him with the question: “Peter, do you love me?” And Peter replied, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus repeated, to make sure Peter understands, “Peter do you love me more than these?” And he replied, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Again, for the third time, Jesus asked “Peter, do you love me?” Peter was grieved for now he realized the gravity of the words, and in profound sincerity, he said, “Yes, Lord you know that I love you.” And Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”

 

* OUR POSTLUDE

 

Last year, in August 2008, I had the privilege of going to Israel and visiting Tiberias in Galilee. The highlight of my pilgrimage was to be asked to preach and celebrate the Mass at the site where Peter said these words, “Yes, Lord, you now that I love you.” It is now the site of the Church of The Primacy of Peter because it established Peter as the first pope of the Roman Catholic Church. For me, however, Peter represents not only the Pope, but also most of us, ordinary people of God. Peter was like us. He was fallen, he was weak, he was afraid, he was emotional, he was a failure, and he was ordinary. But in the unconditional mercy, love and grace of Jesus, God restored Peter and put in him back to the mountain top. In the history of human redemption, no one can take the place of Peter as one who has failed, repented, and restored.

 

The song from Josh Groban “You Raise Me Up” is the song of Peter and ours when it says at the end, “You raised me up so I can stand on mountain; You raised me up to walk on stormy seas. I am strong when I am on your shoulder. You raised me up to more than I can be.” Amen. # # #

 



Related news items:
Newer news items:
Older news items:

Last Updated on Saturday, 21 February 2009 05:57
 

Add your comment

Your name:
Your email:
Subject:
Comment (you may use HTML tags here):

Quote of the Day

"Ever wonder if illiterate people get the full effect of alphabet soup?"--John Mendoza