Transfigure, Lent, mental health, suicide
We read from the second Sunday of Lent the Transfiguration of Jesus (Matthew 17:1-9).
Transformation apparently is synonymous with transfiguration. Transformation however is more colloquial than transfiguration. Transfiguration is a theological word referring to mystical change of the body particularly that of Jesus.
The transfiguration of Jesus was described as a supernatural change: “His face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. Moses and Elijah appeared.” (Matthew 17:1)
The transfiguration of Jesus is another epiphany of God’s glory and the affirmation of Jesus as Son of the Father. “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” It is an event that projected his passion, death, and resurrection. It was an event that strengthened the apostles to embrace their parcel of suffering and not to surrender up to death for they will surely share in the resurrection of Jesus. He said, “Rise and do not be afraid” (Matthew 17:7). The event summarized the authority of Jesus as the fulfillment of the old law represented by Moses and the old prophets represented by Elijah. The voice said, “Listen to him” (Matthew 17:5).
Conversion is another term that may find some similarity with transformation. Conversion and transformation belong to the human person. Conversion in the light of moral theology may mean the human condition, from sinner to saint or simply from bad to good. The 12 individuals were not qualified to become followers of Jesus but He qualified them and they became His apostles.
Nevertheless, conversion happens in and by the grace of God. Human capacity alone cannot make conversion work.
Metamorphosis is the change of the caterpillar to a butterfly. “Metanoia” belongs to the human person. But transfiguration belongs to Jesus.
Metanoia is a Greek word to mean conversion of heart. It is not enough to change our ways or change our bodies. We must change our way of life and our way of thinking to that of Jesus.
In the light of conversion, fasting and abstinence are not just physical disciplines. They are spiritual disciplines. If we are able to observe fasting and abstinence in its spiritual sense and not for its literal sense, we will not complain or do it for mere compliance. If we are able to abstain from eating meat and fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, then we will be in a higher disposition to resist the temptation of the devil and turn down his deceptions.
The coronavirus disease-2019 is shocking the world. The tragedy involving a grade 11 student of Sagada who ended his life added to this shock.
Suicidal attempts and suicide cases are alarming in Mountain Province particularly in Natonin, Bontoc, Sadanga, Sagada, Bauko, and Tadian have recorded such tragic incidents.
I have been facilitating retreats and recollections and found that suicidal attempts are true not only among students but even among teachers and parents. This plight obliges each one to do something before it infects our homes.
I am grateful to Ricky Ducas for his selfless services on mental health. “The brain is different from the mind. To be healed the brain needs medicines but the mind needs more than medicines,” he said.
Before my Sunday mass in Sagada, I received a text message to pray for somebody. We prayed for him in the holy masses. But I did not bother to ask for what particular purpose was the holy mass intention.
Dublyn Langbao and Esther Padalla messaged me on March 10 about a suicide in Sagada. They mentioned a name that sounded familiar. I was shocked to know that it was the name sent for mass intention two Sundays ago.
If only the sender gave the purpose for the intention, we could have referred him to a mental health professional. We have friends around who can manage depression and anxiety. I felt guilty for not asking the purpose of the mass intention.
We learn big lessons; let us give quality time to people and listen to their brokenness. Let us refer them to professionals. Let us make them feel they are not alone. Let us pray with them. Prayer is priceless, free, doable, and yet effective. You can always message the support group under Ducas. You can reach your priests and church leaders for pieces of advice and prayers. You can always message me as well.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church elaborates the fifth commandment, “You shall not kill.” “Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains forever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being.”
We condemn suicide but we cannot condemn those who committed suicide. Instead, let us pray for them.
On Lenten season, let us make it our habit to pray that those suffering from anxiety and depression undergo conversion. Reach me at [email protected] or at 0905-165-3669.