|By Fr. Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose and Vicar General for special projects, Diocese of San Jose. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In all her years teaching high school, this was the worst class. It started out with spit-balling, then pranks; it got worse each day. Eventually it reached a crescendo of bad behavior when they called each other vulgar names. She decided that was it, they were not going any further and gave them all an immediate assignment.
She asked them all to pull out a piece of paper and to write the name of every single student in the classroom in one column and in another column, write one good characteristic about each classmate. She warned them that this was to be taken very seriously and would be worth 50% of their grade.
Silence descended on the class. They each pulled out a piece of paper and started the assignment. All the work was handed in and the class was dismissed. The next day, each student arrived with little strips of paper sitting on their desk of what every other student had said about them.
Slowly, all the kids started to read what others had said. The stony silence was only broken by an odd sob or tears as they read. At the end of the day, the students handed the teacher a sheet of paper with her name written on top; every single student had written what they believed was her strongest gift to them.
It was a defining moment for Mrs. O’Connell because she brought that same sheet of paper with her to every single class as a reminder of the goodness that lies within students and to never give up. The experience was transforming for the whole class. They will remember this for life.
In today’s Gospel we hear how Jesus took his disciples up a mountain and was transfigured before them. It gave them a moment that they would remember for a lifetime.
Most of us have had some apex experience that we remember. It could be our wedding day, the birth of a child or something that happened that you remember with great enthusiasm.
Why must it be only once in a lifetime? Can’t we give each other transforming experiences on a daily basis like the teacher? Can’t we find it in ourselves to put aside the sarcastic comments and instead offer a genuine compliment?
Saying something kind to someone when they most need it can transform and transfigure a life. Not just for that day, sometimes for a lifetime. It requires of us to be led away by the Spirit. It requires of us to pay attention to the Spirit that dwells within us. It is not just the once-in-a lifetime moment that we see that mountaintop experience; we need to experience it daily and for each other.
Today, may we find some words; some actions that give somebody else the possibility of a transfiguration experience in their life? Perhaps it will make not only their day but their week and maybe even their year?