|by Angela (Lambert) Jendro|
February 25th, 2018 2nd Sunday of Lent
Gospel of Mark 9:2-10 NAB
Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them. As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.
I can’t believe my eyes! Peter, James, and John must surely have thought this at the Transfiguration. They would again – though for a different reason – at the Cross; and again at the sight of the risen Lord (their disbelief so great Jesus urged them to touch Him and feel for themselves). There, at the Transfiguration, Jesus’ divinity and Messianic promise radiated unveiled in glory. Despite the awe inspired by this divine theophany, they struggled to understand what Jesus meant by rising from the dead.
The Apostles believed Jesus to be the Messiah and remained with Him through the entire three-year tenure of His public ministry. Nevertheless, they often underestimated Christ, and despite the innumerable miracles they witnessed firsthand, regularly regressed to earthly problem solving without calculating the supernatural aid of their divine Master. Consider the storm on the sea in which they were sure they would drown while Jesus lay asleep (Mark 4:35-41), or their concern over forgetting to bring bread on their voyage even though Jesus had just multiplied loaves and fishes on two different occasions for the multitudes (Mark 8:14-21). Despite the pervasive modern attitude that “I’ll believe it when I see it,” we like the disciples, tend to ignore the very rule we place on God. Miracle after miracle He works in our lives, and yet we continue to worry. Jesus could very well say to many of us, “Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember?” (Mark 8:18 RSV).
How could there be so much intimacy with the incarnate Lord – so much love, and so much loyalty – and yet so little trust? They lacked the gift of the Holy Spirit and sanctifying grace won for us by Christ’s Paschal Mystery. The bridge from human weakness and anxiety to the strength of Christian peace is the beams of the Cross.
Everyone’s spiritual journey is unique. At the same time, we are all human and so the stages of our spiritual development share some commonality just like our physical development. We begin more easily trusting that which is familiar to us in the natural, visible world, and distrusting that which is possible only to God who transcends our understanding. Discipleship requires the movement of grace and receptivity to the invitation of Christ. We need the Holy Spirit to enable us to follow the Lord where He leads, even though it may mystify and surprise us. As God reminds us in Isaiah 55:8-9:
|“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” RSV|
Every disciple of Christ struggles to move from the immediacy of visible world, to consistent sight of the even deeper reality of the invisible world. The two are not mutually exclusive, but rather intimately related to one another. As Catholics we call it the “sacramental principle.” God knows our struggle, which is why “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1: 14 RSV).
During Lent we take a step back to evaluate just how deep our faith really goes and to examine what “safety nets” of ours we keep erected in case God doesn’t come through for us. These attachments hold us back from full freedom in the Lord. Like the apostles, we worry about things like bread and tents (financial and physical security), when Christ has provided everything we need and more…including life itself and a room in His Father’s house.
During Lent, as we contemplate the awesome, sacrificial love of Christ, we are challenged to invite Him more fully into every aspect of our lives. Certainly He has proven that we can trust Him – the man that died and rose again for us, the man who is also God!
So, consider: What limits do you place on God? Where’s the boundary of your faith? Do you trust God to secure your eternal home, but doubt with matters related to your earthly one? Sometimes the visible world can seem more real than the invisible. The immediacy and demands of each day’s tasks can beguile our imagination into feeling as if God is remote and unrelated to the day’s needs, at least in any concrete or practical way. But, God is Lord of Heaven and Earth. His power and His love know no bounds.
Abraham believed this to his very core. He trusted God to be Who He claimed to be. His faith was so confident that he didn’t even hesitate when he raised the knife to sacrifice his only beloved son and his only hope of a legacy. St. Paul described Abraham’s magnanimous faith in his letter to the Hebrews saying:
|“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was ready to offer up his only son, of whom it was said “Through Isaac shall your descendants be named.’ He considered that God was able to raise men even from the dead; hence he did receive him back, and this was a symbol.” (Hebrews 11:17-19 RSV).|
The eyes of faith see the visible and the invisible. They “understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear” (Hebrews 11: 3). Faith trusts that God is who He says He is, and who He has shown Himself to be time and again. Yes, it exceeds our understanding, because “with God, nothing is impossible.” So, as we journey through Lent, may we spend more time with the Lord and develop greater awareness of His daily presence. Hopefully by the end, we will be somewhat closer to the confidence of St. Paul in his letter to the Romans:
|“Brothers and sisters: If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him?” Romans 8:31-32 NAB|
- Sarah conceived Isaac despite being barren and past the natural age. St. Paul writes that God did this because of her faith saying, “she considered Him faithful Who had promised” (Hebrews 11: 11 RSV).
- Consider God’s faithfulness. How has God been there for you when it counted? How has He answered prayers in a way you didn’t expect? How has He brought good out of a bad situation?
- Consider God’s generosity. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you look back on the day, week, year, and course of your life and see God’s blessings. Then spend a few minutes in prayers of gratitude.
- Entrust to God your cares. Make a list of your worries or of what’s weighing on your heart, and place them in the care of Christ in prayer.
Make a Resolution (Practical Application):
- Pray the Act of Faith, Divine Praises, Serenity or Suscipe Prayers each day this week. (click on the prayer listed to see it’s text)
- Make a gratitude list at the end of each day.
- Moments to Remember…A Reflection on the Transfiguration
- Mount Tabor Moments & Transfiguration in Christ
- Preparing the Soil…Spiritual Receptivity
~ Written by Angela Jendro © 2018
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