Raphael is the famous Italian painter – the architect of the High Renaissance.
Together with Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, he forms the traditional trinity of great masters of that period.
There is a famous painting of the Transfiguration of our Blessed Lord by Raphael.
This painting was done in Rome in 1520.
Raphael had his health deteriorating at this time, as soon he was to die at the age of 37.
With the life-energy draining out of him, he chose to apply his mastery strokes on the painting of the Transfiguration.
In the upper centre part of the painting is seen a flat, rock mountain top.
The three disciples – Peter, James and John – are shielding their eyes from the glory.
Just above them, in the air, are Elijah and Moses and Jesus.
Jesus is glisteningly white, as scripture says, “no fuller on earth could bleach”
At the bottom of the mountain, is the crowd of the other disciples.
They are being unable to heal a boy, who is possessed by a demon.
The boy, an epileptic is seen in a fit of seizure, and flanked by his helpless father
These two contrasting images in the same picture are drawn from the 17th Chapter of the Gospel of St Matthew.
• The Transfiguration of the Lord (Mt 17: 1- 13)
• The inability of the disciples to heal the epileptic boy (Mt 17: 14ff)
The Gospel of the day is the second incident: of how the disciples fail to heal the boy and how Jesus intervenes to cure and teaches the importance of possessing strong faith.
These two incidents that are depicted in the Painting of the Transfiguration by Raphael, shows contrasting dimensions…
On one side, immense glory being revealed and the Divine splendour being manifested
On the other, lack of faith being exposed and the failure in the Kingdom ministry
On one side, the three disciples basking in the light of heightened faith and devotion
On the other, the other disciples being lost in the darkness of inability to put the faith to effectiveness
And how often is this the painting of our own lives too…
• There are some moments when we experience the loftiness of God’s glory and power
• There are other moments when we fail miserably to evoke His presence and are unable to feel His
• There are some times when faith makes us to feel that everything is so glorious and wonderful
• There are other times when our faith hits rock-bottom and our spiritual life loses its sheen and all seems so miserable
This is the reality of our lives – contrasting experiences of glorious faith at some instants and miserable lack of trust at other
But the Gospel of the day ends with an encouraging exhortation by Jesus to have a strong and sturdy faith – the faith the size of a mustard seed
“If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Mt 17:20)
When the disciples were unable to bring about a healing to the epileptic boy, the Lord sure did rebuke them for their “lack of faith”.
But after having healed the child, He does not linger with the reproaching or admonishing attitude… instead as a loving friend and a caring master, gently but firmly encourages them to be stronger in their faith.
This is the approach that He has towards us too…
He knows that we have our weak moments and situations of disbelief and doubts
He knows that there are periods when our faith is merely on the lips and not really from the depths of our hearts
He knows that there are times when annoying circumstances encroach our faith-life and all our efforts in devotion meet with bitter conclusions
Yet, with firmness and fondness, Jesus invites us to keep seeking to grow in our trust in Him and have faith of the size of the mustard seed.
Today we celebrate the Feast of St Dominic, the valiant preacher of the Word of God and the passionate promoter of the Devotion to our Blessed Mother in the Holy Rosary.
Fulton Sheen speaking on the Rosary says:
“The rosary is the book of the blind, where souls see and there enact the greatest drama of love the world has ever known.
It is the book of the simple, which initiates them into mysteries and knowledge more satisfying than the education of other men.
It is the book of the aged, whose eyes close upon the shadow of this world, and open on the substance of the next.
The power of the rosary is beyond description.”
May the words of St Dominic, “A man who governs his passions is master of the world.
We must either command them, or be enslaved by them.
It is better to be a hammer than an anvil”
… and our love for our Blessed Mother through the Holy Rosary help us to deepen our faith and trust in the Lord!
God Bless! Live Jesus!