Column for February 21, 2016
Dear Followers of Jesus,
Last Sunday we followed the Spirit into the desert. This week, Luke’s gospel (9:28b-36) takes us on a journey to a mountaintop on this Second Sunday of Lent. Jesus is transfigured, with bright light reflecting in the eyes of his disciples.
This is the scene of the Transfiguration, where Jesus becomes dazzling white and the voice of the Father comes from a cloud. We understand along with those disciples that Jesus truly is the Son of God. In earshot of the Father’s voice, we know we are in the right place.
This mountain shows us the person of Jesus. We see him as he really is. We take a deep breath and realize the beauty of our following Jesus in this Lenten season. We follow him well beyond this scene and ultimately to another mountain called Calvary, where he will be nailed to a cross.
In this Year of Mercy, Jesus may be leading you to a new perspective on your life just as he led the disciples up a mountain. He wants you to know that you belong in His love. He wants you to see that your journey is really a path toward love if you can see it. Jesus desires that you to live every moment in his presence.
When we see our lives centered in His name, we see our pain, our suffering transfigured in love. Our suffering is a path toward love and Jesus stands in front of us in dazzling white ready to transfigure our doubt, our abuse, our loneliness, our fear, our hardships, our addictions into his goodness and love.
This gospel calls us to change our perspectives on our lives. Many people come to church wanting to hear what they already know, the rules of the Church so that they know where they stand with God and who will be in or out of that love. This mountain tells us that there is more to learn, that we must be open to the light and peace of God’s mercy.
Conversion to Christ is ongoing. There is more to learn every time we gather for Eucharist. I know so many of us want to cling to the fact that we are worthless or sinful or have no good within our hearts. Many of us feel that we do not live up to God’s love, that we are worthless in His eyes. Jesus wants change. He wants us to stop putting ourselves down, to stop using language that decreases our self-worth. Jesus wants us to stop thinking that we do not belong to him, that we are worthless in his sight. This mountain is meant for our transfiguration, for us to become dazzling white, loving and sure-footed on the ground of love.
Jesus also draws us into becoming a compassionate people. We have a long way to go to be compassionate with just ourselves. The Lenten journey is about a whole-hearted change in how we see ourselves, other people and especially God. There is much in our lives that needs to be converted, to be changed and to be mended so that we can become a truly compassionate people.
Here are some questions to reflect upon this week from Luke’s gospel text:
How can you learn in this Lenten season to see Jesus with greater clarity? How can you see him with love in his eyes? How can you learn to listen to him with forgiveness on his lips?
What does it mean for you to follow Jesus in this Lenten Season? Where is he leading you? Might Jesus be leading you to let go of the past or perhaps to let go of the false blame you carry about the circumstances of your life? Are you willing to follow him in prayer and meditation?
How is God calling you to become more compassionate and to live with less fear? What does it mean for you to listen to a stranger or to walk in another person’s shoes? How would you define compassion?
How is Jesus inviting you into prayer beyond ritual or formula or rote expressions? How do you rest in Him on the mountain?
In the mercy of God,