Captain Kirk can beam up or down to a planet from his space ship. Harry Potter can disappear behind a vanishing cloak; Merlin was the greatest magician that ever lived. However, everything they did was in Hollywood—and was not real. What Jesus did was real. Our Lord was transfigured in the presence of Peter, John and James. They were privileged to have seen the glory of Jesus in the company of Moses and Elijah.
Peter, John and James came down from the mountain and did not tell anyone what they had seen because they probably did not know how to describe what could not be described. The emotion, the shock, the limitation of language prevented them from talking about their experience. Scripture scholars say that Jesus was trying to prepare them for His inevitable Passion. Our Lord knew that there would be difficult times ahead; so He wanted them to have a preview of the glory that they would share in heaven. Previews serve a purpose, especially for those who do not like surprises. Jesus gave His disciples plenty of hints concerning the future—in order to strengthen them. However, they forgot—they all forgot. When Judas kissed the Lord in the Garden and the soldiers arrested Him, Peter became violent. Acted against everything Jesus had preached and cut off the ear of one of the soldiers. Our Lord had to remind him to put away his sword. They all ran away. Jesus faced His accusers alone, carried His cross and met His death alone. The first Pope, the first Bishops, the pillars of the Church went into hiding because they were afraid. How quickly we can forget the truth when we are afraid. The Creed we profess, the prayers we have recited, the Catechism classes we learned—they all vanish when fear takes over our life.
We do not want to judge the disciples because given the same circumstances we might have acted in the same way. Fear for our life is a natural reaction when we feel threatened. Perhaps that’s one reason that we avoid speaking about death. Not that it should be our favorite topic, but that we need to be prepared, especially if we are at the jumping off place—in other words, if we are chronologically gifted. We were never designed to last forever on this planet. Our soul is designed to last forever, but not our body. The normal ware and tare starts to show as we age.
Lent started with familiar words, “Remember that you are dust and unto dust you shall return.” We are not human beings seeking to become spiritual. We are spiritual beings seeking to be human. God’s original plan is the one that the three disciples experienced on the mountain—the glory that the Son shares with the Father, which will one day, be ours. Meanwhile, there is nothing to fear. Lent is about dying to ourselves—should serve to get us into shape. Attachments—things that occupy our minds—keep us awake at night—got to let go. The challenge is to be free. By the time that we are ready to say that Jesus is the Lord of our life, then nothing can be more important—no person—no possession—no job—only the Lord can be our focus. Took a cloud and a voice to silence Peter, John and James. “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” What does it take for us? We do we need to be quiet in order to listen to Jesus? A personal question because our life-styles are all different. Lent is the opportunity—especially Lent—not so much about doing than about being. Jesus wants us to be His—to belong to Him. Starts by listening. Prayer of listening—or contemplation is not easy, but possible. A group meets here every Tuesday after the morning Mass—if you want to learn. The gift is already inside of us, we just have to undo the wrapping.
Jesus wants to manifest His glory to us. A mountain is not necessary, just our openness. The Lord will cover us with His glory when we listen to Him.