Sunday, March 16, 2014

Transfiguration - Lenten Invitation

Today's gospel reading tells us of the experience that Peter, James and John had with Jesus called the   "Transfiguration". Our Gospel reading tells us that,

'He was transfigured before their eyes. His face became dazzling as the sun, His clothes as radiant as light. Suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared . . conversing with (Jesus)"

I would guess that most of us do not understand what this is all about. Why Was Peter So Glad to See This when he burst out with,

"Lord, How Good it Is for Us to Be Here!"

Now, Moses was the prophet chosen by God to lead Israel out of slavery in Egypt to freedom and take them back to the Promised Land. He was the one that received the Ten Commandments, God’s Law, on Mt Sinai in the dessert and his meeting with Jesus, here, is a sign that Jesus’ coming is the fulfillment of the Law.

Then we have Elijah, the Prophet and Priest, whom God  sent to warn Israel and Judah that their turning away from God’s Law and Friendship would have dire consequences.

His warnings were ignored by the leadership and freedom was lost again. Slavery in Babylon, domination by the Greeks and then occupation by Rome follow. His message continues however, calling God’s people back, his message is that God never tires of searching for you, yearning for your return. He is considered the Greatest Prophet because he point to God’s absolute faithfulness and mercy.

One Way of understanding the meaning of the Transfiguration is this:

 We see on the mountaintop these three:

The prophet of God’s gifts of Law and Freedom and the journey back to the promised land. -  MOSES

The prophet of God’s faithfulness and mercy and His call to return again to the promised land of the love and  embrace of God. - ELIJAH

And JESUS, God himself, come to announce  the Good News as Prophet, Priest and King.

No wonder the Apostles are overwhelmed!

Lets try to personalize our response to this scene. To do this I will share with you a meditation by Father Joe Veneroso (*)  [editor of Maryknoll Magazine for many years].

When I went to school to learn how to preach we were always told to never ask the congregation to close their eyes since many will take the chance to get a quick nap. On the other hand,  our classes on prayer used the closing of ones eyes as a tool to blocking out distractions during any meditative prayer. Today I’m going to ignore the preaching rule and go with the prayer recommendation.

[Please close your eyes. Imagine one day you have some time to relax and you are going through your mom's attic and you find some of your stuff from years ago:]

Exploring attic mysteries, dust covered memories (of) faded feelings cry out to be un-forgotten.

Behind a trunk of granny's fashions that furnished many a Halloween or let's dress up (costume),
an old album beckons me to open my mind and make peace with the past.

God, we were the best of friends. Mutt and Jeff. Two (peas in a pod).
Nothing would separate us, we vowed. But nothing finally did.

One day I teased and taunted a bit too long.
I wanted to punish you for loving me so much.
Or punish myself for loving you at all.
I wanted to test the limits of your loyalty.

I know this now.
Back then -
Who could stare the longest without blinking
Became -
Who could stand the longest being apart.

A day turned into a decade.
How could I know -
Time has such a nasty habit
Of turning a moment's silence into eternity?

Rather than swallow my pride and giving in,
I chose to wallow.
Other friends filled my self inflicted void.
(I'll show you!)

After a while, half a life went by
Without so much as a -
Whatever became of old what's his name?

And then one day out of the blue,
Someone mentioned you.
I pretended not to know. I was too embarrassed
to admit we were once childhood friends.

My little charade did not work.
You had asked for me, I learned.
Not a day had passed without
Your thinking about me.

Impatient to make peace and knowing how
stubborn I can be, you could not wait another minute,
so you sent your only begotten son to find and forgive me
and say "lets be friends again."

Now that we're together once more,
I feel whole and healed and happier
Than I've been in years.
We have a lot of catching up to do, you and I.

But until then I can't help but go tell the world
How much you love them too much
And how there are no limits to your loyalty
And not a day goes by without your thinking of them.

And if you, who are so good and holy and true,
Could come to make peace with me  in my sinfulness,
who am I to carry a grudge instead of a cross? (*)

My friend, if you are here today only as an observer.
 Consider responding to his call, his invitation to you to become one of his people. Just as he had Moses lead the Jews to freedom through the waters of the Red Sea, Jesus will bring you into his friendship through the water of baptism. Lent is a good time to consider this invitation. Not a day passes without him thinking about you.

My friend, have you come here today and now recall that your brother or your sister has something against you? 
That a moment of silence or anger became a decade, that your pride built  a wall between you?

I urge you to go forth from here today, turn back the clock, tear down that wall and be reconciled. Lent is a good time to undertake such an effort. Not a day passes without Jesus wanting you to be at peace with them and with him.

My friend, are you one who has been away from the table of your God?
Perhaps you just wandered away. Or you ran away in anger. Maybe something else seemed more appealing at the time.

Today, in this place, we your brothers and sisters remind you of Him. He asks about you every day. He waits with longing for your return. Like Elijah, we  your brothers and sisters, are calling you back to the table of your God.

The sacrament of reconciliation is celebrated here in this place often in Lent. Come, He waits with open arms to be reconciled with you.

(*) Fr. Joseph Veneroso’s meditations from Maryknoll Magazine can be found in :
God in Unexpected Places , Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY, 2007, available at or from Orbis Books. 

© Copyright 2014 Joseph E. Hilber. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without prior written permission of the author.

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