I was born on August 6th, 71 years ago. This is a notable feast day for Catholics because its also the day we celebrate The Transfiguration of the Lord.

By Birth

I wanted so badly to have a popular saint share the date of my birth, like Saint Lucy, perhaps Saint Rita or even Saint Teresa of Calcutta; but it was not to be. By the providence of God I was born on the Transfiguration of the Lord. Only after I understood why we Catholics celebrate this feast day did I feel pleased to have been born on this day.


The Brochure

Holy Land

In the year 2000 I took my first missionary trip. This trip lasted 22 days. The schedule was grueling, leaving  little time to take a deep breath. Since I had never been to the Holy Land, this experience was like opening the pages of the Bible and walking in the footsteps of our Lord. Every day was drawing me closer and closer to understanding how and when the unfolding of these fascinating events took place over 2,000 years ago.  I had fallen in love with this land and wanted to see more.

The 2000 Tour Brochure

I have a tendency to save a lot of things, so I was pleasantly surprised to find the brochure of this  first missionary trip.

In  the year 2000, tourists were allowed to visit Gaza, which is located in the West Bank. I remember this because we had to be very careful of our surroundings. Today it is too dangerous to travel there because of terrorism, civil unrest and armed conflict. After we visited Gaza, we had a jam-packed day that included Caesarea, Haifa, Mount Carmel, the River Jordan and Tiberias. At every site we set aside special time for prayer. It was powerful!

Church of the Transfiguration

The following day was no different. The schedule included Nazareth, Cana and Mount Tabor. Though I was in a state of awe during most of this trip, at Mount Tabor I was truly transformed.

Jesus At Mount Tabor

Our Lord traveled by foot up the rugged mountain to reach the top of Mount Tabor. He took his trusted circle of friends, Peter, James and John, to experience His transfiguration. A mountain is always a metaphor for deep prayer, but in this case Jesus was transfigured on a real mountain. The Transfiguration of the Lord is mentioned in three of the gospels: Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9: 1-8 and Luke 9:28-36. This reveals the importance of the message God had for us. He wanted us  to listen to His Son Jesus.


The road to Mount Tabor


The Church of the Transfiguration

The Church of  The Transfiguration

You must travel to the top of Mount Tabor to reach the Church of the Transfiguration. Our tour bus was too big to make the narrow turns up to Mount Tabor, so we had to stop at the bottom of the hill to catch taxis. I will never forget the crazy Arab taxi drivers who sped up the hill like a bolt of lightning. These experienced drivers appeared to be careless, but they knew how to get us up to the Church of the Transfiguration and back safely.

The magnificent grounds of Mount Tabor are filled with unique beauty and history that date back to the Old Testament. This land is sacred  to both Jews and Christians alike. It is mentioned by name in ( 2 Peter 1:16-18).

There are different levels to this church,  designed to capture both the spirit and beauty it has to offer. The mosaic tiles and stained glass windows are beyond  description; as if  the hand of God was used to create them.  All the holy sites in Israel, including this church, are under the custodianship of the Franciscans.

As our team arrived, we would crowd into the  either chapel of Moses or Elijah, depending on which was available for a Bible lesson.

Bible Lesson

The beauty of our mission trips was that our team leader Joanne was always prepared to give us an in-depth Bible study. I was the nerd of the group who always took notes. After the lesson it was time for prayer. Then we were free to walk the grounds and climb to the second level  to a lookout point overlooking the Jezreel Valley. I will never forget the sensation of being on top of  the same mountain upon which Jesus was Transfigured. No picture could capture all the senses I was experiencing, the smell of the valley, the ear-piercing sound of the church bells as they filled the entire valley announcing to the world, “This is the spot where  our Lord Jesus was Transfigured! Come and see for yourselves!” This message of the bells rings to all the Bedouin villages surrounding this area.

The Bedouins

Mount Tabor is located in a Bedouin village, so there are no Christians in this vicinity.  The Arabs are respectful of The Church of the Transfiguration, but are indifferent to how we view this holy site. The Bedouins are friendly people who keep to themselves, but many have kept to their true traditional lifestyle of sheepherding  and live off the grid. It’s always interesting to see this contrast in person. The Bedouins in this area are Sunni Muslim.

Transfiguration In Our Lives

As I reflect on the 71 years of my life, I can offer sage advice. Serve the Lord while you can, make room for Him in you lives and you will experience a great transformation.

Have I changed? Yes, it started with my commitment to God. Because I have the desire to grow in my faith, special graces have been bestowed in many areas of my life. I am a much better listener. When you listen to others, you can’t talk at the same time. I submitt important matters through prayer and wait for the Lord’s reply. Patience is the most difficult grace for me to obtain  but again, through prayer, I’m making headway. I’m more loving and have a greater ability to empathize with others. As much as I want to add my two cents’ worth  in certain matters, the Lord has quieted my voice.

I know of many wonderful, good-hearted people who do not have a personal relationship with the Lord. I understand how much God loves them and patiently waits for them to call out to Him. The only assurance we have for them is from the Book of Acts 16:30-31.



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