Whenever Wall Street of New York City is mentioned, a few images and ideas will come to mind.
Whether we have been there or not, from what we know and heard about, we would expect the place to have stock brokers, businessmen in suits and briefcases and hear plenty of money-talk.
And there is the famous big bronze sculpture of a bull, a charging bull. That is supposed to be a symbol of aggressive financial optimism and prosperity.
So it is quite correct to say that it is a world of stocks and shares, and people rushing about to close business deals. That is what we expect and that is what Wall Street is.
But some 30 meters away and straight in front of the charging bull is something that we may not expect to see. Facing the charging bull is a 4-feet bronze sculpture of a little girl in a dress with her hands on her hips and looking straight at the charging bull.
It is quite an unexpected and a surprising sight, but the bronze sculpture of the little girl changes the look and the feel of the place.
Now crossing over from Wall Street to Barcelona in Spain, one of the tourist attractions is the Barcelona Cathedral. It is a magnificent building of Gothic architecture.
Amidst this magnificence and within the cathedral is a small cloistered garden with a pond. And in that garden there are some free-roaming white geese, 13 of them.
It is quite a strange and unexpected sight, these 13 white geese, roaming around in the garden with a pond in the majestic cathedral. It certainly changes the look and the feel of the cathedral.
Whenever something strange and unexpected comes our way, there can be a variety of reactions: surprise, alarm, awe, amazement, astonishment.
In the gospel, we heard that Jesus led Peter, James and John up a high mountain where they could be alone. The disciples were not told what to expect, and probably they were not expecting anything, other than some fresh air and a good view.
But what they didn’t expect was to see Jesus being transfigured. Neither did they expect to Moses and Elijah to appear.
Their reaction was that of awe and amazement. But when a bright cloud covered them with shadow and when they heard the voice, the three of them fell on their faces and they were overcome with fear.
All that was unexpected and they don’t quite know what to make out of it.
But for us, this is nothing new. We have heard this before, many times even, and it’s no surprise to us.
We know why Moses and Elijah appeared. Moses represented the Law and Elijah represented the prophets. They pointed to Jesus who is the Law and the Prophet.
Moses also brought God’s people out of slavery in Egypt and that also pointed to Jesus who will bring us out of the bondage and slavery of sin. Elijah, as we know, went up to heaven in a chariot of fire. Jesus came, not just to bring us out of the bondage of sin, He also came to bring us back to heaven, our eternal home.
Oh yes, we know all that, or we should know all that. So the account of the Transfiguration of Jesus doesn’t seem to surprise us or make us think much about it.
But as we come for Mass and hearing the account of the Transfiguration of Jesus, are we also “transfigured” into a joyful people of God, celebrating our salvation in Christ, and proclaiming the Good News in our lives?
It is said that Catholics come for Mass looking like as if they are coming for a funeral. The faces are somber and sober; some try to sing, some lip-sync, some don’t sing. Some try to look happy, but others seem to look grumpy.
Maybe between the two Sundays of the week, we had gone through quite a rough time. We have been put down by rough words, by criticisms, gossips and slanders that burden our hearts and pull our faces down. So how to smile or be happy when we come to church?
But let us hear again what Jesus said to the three disciples: Stand up, do not be afraid.
We come to church so that we can hear again the life-giving words of Jesus.
We want to stand up and be transfigured so that like that bronze sculpture of the girl in Wall Street standing and facing the charging bull, we too can face the ugly world and bring beauty to it.
And about those 13 geese in the garden in the Barcelona cathedral, they represent the 13 year-old martyr St. Eulalia who refused to renounce her faith in Christ.
Her martyrdom brought about the birth of Christianity in Barcelona and eventually in Spain.
St. Eulalia was not afraid to stand up for her faith and her martyrdom brought about a transfiguration of the city and the country.
And Jesus is telling us to “Stand up and do not be afraid”, because He wants to transfigure us into a joyful, hopeful and a beautiful people of God.
When we are transfigured, then we too can help others to be transfigured by telling them to “Stand up and do not be afraid”.
And that is the Good News of the Transfiguration of Jesus. He is telling us to “Stand up” and be transfigured, so that we too can tell that to others.