March 16, 2014 - 2nd Sunday of Lent, Year A
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church
Life is difficult. Of course, we laugh and celebrate, we work and play.
Life is not impossible or joyless or meaningless. But it is difficult.
It seems that one thing after another demands our attention:
financial debt, taxes, a son who isn’t learning at school, a daughter who is learning too much outside of school, a parent who is slowly loosing the ability to remember, a sibling who is sick and dying, the threat of downsizing at work, unemployment, underemployment, a drop in the market, the wrong numbers in a blood profile.
What makes life difficult is that we continually face physical, mental and social challenges. These challenges take some effort.
Without effort, our personal goals remain unrealized dreams.
Without effort, our enterprises and undertakings flounder.
If life, in general, is difficult, then following Jesus is even tougher.
Living a life of virtue is hard work and life gets harder when we try to bring the best we have to offer.
If we are committed to being more compassionate, then when we face situations of suffering, we must struggle not to dismiss or ignore them.
If we are committed to living in peace, then when we face situations of hostility and hatred, it is difficult to turn the other cheek and forgive.
If we are committed to honesty, then when we face a cover-up, it is difficult to find and walk the path of truth.
The transfiguration is a remedy to life’s difficulties.
Jesus’ transfiguration is divine illumination.
Illumination can be described as connecting with God and allowing the divine energy of God to flow through us.
This is what happens to the disciples who witness the transfiguration.
They did not understand Jesus’ insistence on suffering and death and resurrection.
So Jesus takes them up a high mountain to reveal to them the divine origin of this path.
Jesus’ transfiguration fascinated, absorbed, and delighted Peter, James and John.
It is a special moment of revelation. They have seen and heard and experienced something very special and it changes them.
That’s why Peter wanted to stay there forever. But they had to come down from the mountain.
This mountain top experience was good for the disciples.
These types of spiritual experiences are good for us too.
God refreshes us with transforming experiences, experiences that bring about a spiritual awakening.
These divine moments of grace give us strength to keep everyday life from frustrating us.
Transforming experiences of the divine have immense value in our lives.
But their primary purpose is something greater: to empower us to live in the presence of God and to see the radiance of that presence in events and people, but most of all in ourselves.
The spiritual experience is not a value in itself. It has value when we are able to recommit ourselves to living virtuous lives.
To do this, we simply need to follow the one simple command given to the disciples at the transfiguration:
This is my beloved son, listen to him.
In the first reading Abram listened to the Lord. He left his home to go as the Lord directed him. He didn’t know the destination.
He had to trust that the Lord would lead him along the right path.
In the gospel, Peter, James and John listened to the Lord and followed him.
What about us? Do we listen to the Lord?
The disciples must open themselves up to what Jesus is saying. The transfiguration encourages them in their struggle to allow Jeuss to show them the way.
Life is difficult. But Jesus is a remedy.
We do need to go up the high mountain to experience the Transfiguration. This Divine illumination helps us to take the next step, to come down from the mountain saying:
I’ve been to the mountain but now I am returning to the earth and walking toward Jerusalem with Jesus by my side.