March 8, 2020
Second Sunday of Lent
Dear Followers of Jesus,
Matthew 17:1-9 invites us to climb a mountain with Jesus and the disciples. This is not yet Calvary, but it leads to Jesus’ mountain of death and then to resurrection. On this mountain, some amazing and breathtaking events happen in the sight of his followers. His face and clothing became dazzling white and full of light. The disciples had never seen anything so spectacular. Then from out of the sky, a voice came from out of a cloud, “Behold, this is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.”
We just heard such a miracle a few weeks ago at Jesus’ baptism. Here, the voice and the events on this mountain will lead them to further follow Jesus. They need a shot in the arm and new motivation in order to fulfill the journey. He is going to a place like no other. Their eyes will be wide and bright when all is said and done.
This is the moment of Transfiguration. In him all is light. In Christ Jesus, the Transfiguration is just a glimpse of what will be, when he completes his story on Calvary and from the empty tomb. But life is hushed now, for we don’t yet know the end of the story, but we keep going ready to believe in him as he takes us by his hand and his imagination to places of beauty and sheer miracle.
Last week, the gospel took us to the heated desert. This week, we follow him to a mountaintop. Here, we gain a new perspective, for we also see things differently from higher ground. The Transfiguration begins to shed light and wonder on the season of Lent. Our journey is much like that of the disciples, except that we are on an inner journey, not one that requires a walking staff and climbing boots. Here, our journey requires great patience, mountains of prayer, and enduring efforts that enable us to let go our egos, our wayward thoughts, and the threatening lies we tell ourselves. The purpose of the this journey is to shed every inner thought that keeps us from love, every voice we speak to ourselves that echoes unworthiness, apathy and hatred. Upon the mountain, the disciples heard the voice of God. Well, that same voice is leading us into places we least expect. The voice that guides us, the voice that shows us the way, the voice that remains tender within our broken and fragile hearts is the voice of God.
The voice that we overheard along the path with the tired disciples is the voice of freedom on our journey. This voice is the purpose of Lent, the voice of forgiveness, the voice that reveals to us that every person is in fact the beloved of God. The Lenten season pushes back on those other voices of despair, putdowns, unworthiness and lethargy. The voice of God is the voice of freedom. This, I am sure, is a new trail for many people. The voices we carry in our heads are so often the voices that we heed— especially the voices that condemn us, the voices that make us shrink in daylight, the voices of second-guessing, the voices that ensnare rivalry, the voices that speak to us from the inside out that we have made the wrong choices and that we are essentially a waste of time, and even more loudly the voices that swell in the nighttime that say to us we are unlovable. Let’s hear the voice of God and believe we are on solid ground, no matter how high we have to travel with him to become dazzling as the sun. “Rise, and do not be afraid.”