Transfiguration of Jesus at Eternal Gardens

The Transfiguration of Jesus in the time of the pandemic

Christians celebrate on August 6 (Thursday) the Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus, believed by the church as unique among other miracles in the Bible as it happens to Jesus Himself.

For Thomas Aquinas, one of the greatest scholars of the Catholic Church, the Transfiguration is “the greatest miracle” in that it complemented baptism and showed the perfection of life in Heaven.

Leading memorial care company Eternal Gardens is likewise unique among business groups in having dedicated itself to the popularization of the Transfiguration and its offer of a foretaste of the perfection of life in Heaven.

Its corporate slogan – A Glimpse of Heaven on a Patch of Earth – aptly expresses the promise that the Transfiguration event offers to the faithful.

Its promise of deliverance from life’s afflictions is especially significant at this time, when Filipinos and the rest of mankind all over the world face the challenge of the coronavirus disease pandemic and other hardships. The Transfiguration assures that with faith in the heart, mankind can look forward to its own transfiguration to a healed world.

The Transfiguration image looms high as the corporate symbol of Eternal Gardens over its 11 memorial parks in key places in Luzon and as far as Cagayan de Oro in Mindanao. The image, crafted by National Artist Napoleon Abueva for the maiden park in Baesa, Caloocan, was personally executed by him for that first park and later for two other parks in the cities of Cabanatuan and Santa Rosa.

Other notable artists would execute the image of Christ Transfigured following the original design of Dean Abueva. Amado Castrillo did the images in the second park in Dagupan in 1983, the company’s first expansion outside Metro Manila; the third in Binan, Laguna in 1984; barangay Balagtas, Batangas City in 1986; Lipa City in 1992; and farther south in Naga City in 2000. The Transfiguration at Eternal Gardens Cabuyao, the company’s newest park, is a work of leading sculptor Conrado F. Balubayan.  Balubayan also made the image in Cagayan de Oro City.

All these renderings of the Transfiguration have made it an outstanding landmark in the places hosting the parks.

Eternal Gardens founder Ambassador Antonio L. Cabangon Chua, in setting up the first Eternal Gardens in Baesa, Caloocan in 1976, had an inspired idea to put up a monument of Christ to set his park apart from the others. Equally inspired was his choice of Dean Abueva to design and execute the image. The National Artist is known to have a deep religious faith that made him try to give to every church or religious organization that would approach him.

His wife Dr. Cherry once said that while in the middle of several sculptural commissions, Dean Abueva would drop these projects if any Catholic organization or parish would ask him for a new sculpture for their church. Friends and employees in the ALC Group of Companies would agree that this description of how the Dean lived his faith aptly fits the ways of their founder and Chairman Emeritus as well.

The Transfiguration of Jesus is recorded in three of the four Gospels: Matthew 17:1-9; Mark 9:2-8; and Luke 9:28-36. According to these accounts, Jesus took the apostles Peter, James, and John with Him up upon a mountain, and while they were on the mountain, Christ was transfigured. His face shone like the sun, and His garments became glistening white. As Christ was transfigured, two others appeared with Him: Moses, representing the Old Testament Law, and Elijah, representing the prophets. Thus Christ, who stood between the two and spoke with them, appeared to the disciples as the fulfillment of both the Law and the prophets.

Those with him were surprised, shocked and taken aback. Once composed, Peter utters the famous words, ‘Lord, it is wonderful for us to be here’. But more important than what was said is what they heard; ‘This is my Son, the beloved, he enjoys my favor, listen to him’.

These were the same words that God the Father was heard to proclaim at the baptism of Jesus in the river Jordan, affirming His divinity even as He assumed human nature.

The faithful believe that by His transfiguration, Jesus intended to strengthen the faith of His apostles at the time of His approaching earthly death by giving them a foretaste of His resurrection. At the same time, the brightness of His appearance reflected His true divine nature.

This article of faith is as much meant for the country and the whole world today, as communities cope and struggle to survive today’s pandemic crisis. Mankind is bombarded by news all the time, what with 24-hour news on radio and television, the internet and other communication mediums. They are filled with news, but not all of it good news.

The Transfigurations gives us a brief and fleeting glimpse of Jesus in all His glory. It is a taste of what is to come. It reminds us that our lives are far more than what we see, hear and experience every day. It is not just a matter of getting through the day. Being a follower of Jesus is about living with meaning, purpose and hope.

Eternal Gardens underscores the meaning of this feast day yearly by celebrating the Holy Mass at its branches. But because of the pandemic, the branches will instead sponsor Holy Masses at their respective parishes this year to mark the Feast of the Transfiguration and to remind all Eternalites, their friends and supporters of its important message.

*This article was first published in the BusinessMirror.