2nd Sunday in Lent: Gospel –Matthew17:1-9

Become What God Wants us to become!"

Preached by Fr Philip Heng, SJ at Church of St Ignatius – Singapore
on 16th March 2014

There is a story of Stripe, a tiny caterpillar who spent most of his time eating.  So one day he said to himself, “there must be more to life that eating, and sleeping because come to think of it . . . after a while, it gets pretty boring.”  So, he started to climb down his friendly tree which had shaded him and explored the big and exciting world that he had never seen or known before.  Stripes began to discover that there were grass, bugs, worms, ants that all looked and behaved so differently from him.

One day, Stripe saw some hundreds of crawlers really crawling.  They were all crawling up a pillar, a caterpillar pillar, trying to reach the top.  Stripe felt new excitement within him.  “Maybe, now I would at last find what I am looking for in life.”  As another crawler was crawling pass him, Stripe asked, “What’s at the top of the pillar?”  “I don’t know,” the other crawler said, “It must be awfully good, because everybody is rushing to get to there.”  So Stripe joined in the race with the crowd.  He was pushed, kicked and stepped on from every direction.  It was climb or be climbed over.  It’s the survival of the fittest out there.

Along the way, Stripe met another caterpillar.  She was such a beautiful yellow caterpillar; so he called her “Yellow.”  However, she happened to be blocking the only way up the pillar.  But, because “Yellow” was so beautiful, Stripe felt that whatever that is up there is not worth fighting against Yellow for it.  Somehow Yellow too felt the same way towards Stripe.  Both, then decided to climb down the pillar.  When they reached the bottom, Stripe hugged Yellow.  “Being together like this is sure different from being crushed in the crowd of climbers,” he said.  Yellow just smiled and closed her eyes.  Stripe and Yellow then fell in love and settled down; built a home and spent their time together; it was like heaven for a while.


One day, Stripe couldn’t help wondering.  He said to Yellow, “Maybe we were wrong in coming down.”  Yellow said, “But, we already have a beautiful home and we love each other!  Is this not more than what these lonely climbers have?  Sadly, Stripe was not convinced; some days later he left Yellow and started to climb the pillar in search for what he wanted more in life.  This went on for some time.

Meanwhile, Yellow had learnt how to become a butterfly.  One day as Yellow was fluttering around the pillar with her beautiful bright yellow wings, she caught sight of Stripe still struggling to climb to the top of the pillar.  Yellow flew to Stripe and said, “Look, Stripe, I have flown up to the top of the pillar; and there is nothing there; in fact there is no happiness up there.  In fact, you are meant to be a butterfly and fly around freely like me.  Climb down and I will show you how to become a butterfly, and we could be happy together again.


My brothers and sisters in Christ, there are several possible outcomes for Stripe.  He could insist on his ways and continue to climb with other climbers and not find any happiness in life.

However, Stripes could be humble, and admit that he has been wasting his time and life, and would listen to Yellow, and be guided by her to grow into what he is meant to be; a butterfly.  But, in order to be transformed into a butterfly, Stripe has also to die to himself in a dark cocoon, before he can emerge as a butterfly.  Would Stripe give up or persevere?

In this simple story of Stripes and Yellow, we are reminded of what we are each created to be and become.  We are each created by God, out of love Him to spend our eternity with Him.  Jesus in today’s Gospel of His Transfiguration, revealed His divinity and Glory . . . resplendent and radiating like the sun and His clothes became as white as light.  At this Transfiguration scene, the fullness of Jesus divinity shone through the fullness of His Humanity . . . and revealed to us the true destiny and glory that God too wills our human reality take on when we die.


While we are each physically and emotionally human in our existence, what waits to be transformed within us is the spiritual reality of our souls that can also shine forth with great resplendence, and take on a state of everlasting happiness, peace and joy that God has created us to be and become when we die, and rise again with Him in His Glory.

My sisters and brothers in Christ, will we be like the Stripe, who would humble our self and allow God to transform us into the true beauty of how He wants us to be and live with Him for all eternity in heaven?

Or would we be like Stripe who would choose to remain obstinate and proud, and insist on living in the loneliness of the secular world where we are chasing and climbing up the “pillar” that does not offer any true happiness . . . and in the meanwhile, like Stripes, give up all the happiness that we could experience in our love for one another . . . if we can be more caring and self-sacrificing in our love for one another?

To sum up, let us be reminded that Jesus in today’s event of His Transfiguration has revealed to us a glimpse of the glory that awaits us, if we only choose to allow the transforming love of God to help us grow into becoming the Christ-like “butterfly” so to speak of freedom, happiness, peace and joy in our lives now, and even more resplendent and radiant in the life to come in heaven, when we die . . .

Or do we prefer to continue to crawl, compete and clamour with the people in the secular world who live in the fantasy of wanting to achieve the greater excitement and happiness in life, but end up finding out that in the secular living of life, there may be excitement and contentment, but certainly no true, deep and lasting happiness that God in His infinite Love is offering us, each day of our lives.

As Stripe the caterpillar was meant to be a butterfly, and as Yellow the caterpillar achieved her true purpose in life as a butterfly, God wants you and I to be and become the Christ-like person He has created us to be.  To live this, I would like us to reflect on this poem:


I heard God say one word today.
I thought He was playing pranks.
I scratched my ear, “cause the word He said
was “Thanks, my little one, thanks.”

“Thanks for what?”  I mused and mused.
And urged God to explain.
“Thanks for all you are to me
In sunshine and in rain.

“Thanks for accepting my limitless love
Thanks for trusting in me.
Thanks for accepting my infinite care
What it’s difficult to see.

“Thanks for giving your burdens to me,
Mistakes and all the rest.
Thanks for overlooking the past
And believing that I know best.

Thanks for noting my gifts to you.
Thanks for resting awhile.
Thanks for turning now and then
To give your companions a smile.

“And while I’m at it, thanks so much
For leaving the future to me . . .”
Sr Joan Metzner, M.M.

Msgr Philip Heng,S.J.


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