Second Sunday of Lent 2016
February 13, 2016 by
David Jackson in
Reflections on Sunday Gospels
Cross bearing and glory glimpsing
Introduction: This is Transfiguration Sunday, there was a change in Jesus appearance, we can change more than appearances in our conversion process. (Liturgical note: Besides the celebration of the Transfiguration on the Second Sunday of Lent, the feast is also celebrated on August 6th. Paradoxically the atom bomb was dropped on Japan on that day. There is the startling contrast between the destructive power of transfiguration and the constructive power of transfiguration.)
God promises Abram descendants as numerous as the stars. He also promises the Land.
Paul tells the Philippians and us, “He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself.”
After telling the disciples and us that he must go up to Jerusalem to suffer and die, he gives them a glimpse of his glory.
Here we touch promise and a certain mystical aspect of our Christian life. Like Peter we may want to solidify it and turn the moment into a building project or a ritual. We always would rather stay with the glory than the way to the cross. But with Jesus are Moses and Elijah. Aaron the priest or David the king are not with Jesus. Moses who led the people out of slavery to freedom and Elijah whom king Ahab called “the troublemaker of Israel” are with Jesus. They are speaking about the Exodus of Jesus. He must pass through the cross to arrive at the Resurrection, the promised Land for all eternity. In an instant the glory is gone and Jesus and the disciples must leave the mountain top and return to earth. Jesus leads the way. They make their way around the edges of the cliffs, over the rocky road, back down the mountain to the very bottom of the hill: to the dirty towns and hurting people and unbelieving officials and ineffective institutions below, where the sick and outcast, the abandoned and infected wait for them, expecting the miraculous, expecting to be healed.
Jose Pagola writes: “There is something we can find only in the Gospels: it is the impact that Jesus had on the first disciples who felt attracted to him and followed him. The Gospels are not texts that expound academic doctrine about Jesus. Neither are they biographies written to inform us in detail about the history of his life. They are “stories of conversion” calling us to change, follow Jesus, and identify with his project.”
We cannot hope to have a peak or mountain experience without the long trek up the mountain, the long journey to find God. But we cannot hope to stay on the mountain, on highs. We have to get “down and dirty” as the expression says. We are to find goodness within ourselves (be transfigured and shine with new light) and put this into action. What of God’s goodness is God showing me? How am I putting it into action?