March 8, 2009


He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. – Mk 9: 6

I dare say, we would be like that ourselves. Peter’s words were the stammerings of someone who is in over his head. He was well beyond his comfort zone. This has been the universal experience of those who have suddenly realized that they are in the presence of the Divine. Simultaneously, we become aware of our unworthiness. Peter, James & John were aware of God’s approval of Jesus, but now they are being introduced to the divine plan. That explains why they are asked to keep silent until all had been fulfilled.

The hard lesson of such an experience is to open ourselves to the God who cannot be understood, who is beyond all our scheming, who rains on our picnics, who allows humans to be inhuman. If God were predictable or understandable, we could manipulate Him. Only this God is worth our life & our allegiance. What makes it so difficult for us to bow to this reality? It is our insufferable pride that insists on fitting God into our personal categories.

Why is this Gospel featured during Lent? Because it sounds an important Lenten theme, namely, the need to come apart & look at things from a different angle of vision. We need to scale the heights so that we can see what we cannot see in the valley. Come apart, spend some quiet time in prayer, make a day or evening of recollection. We need to refresh our vision & recapture the splendors, the brightness, the insights we have lost down in the valley of noise & busyness.

If we feel separated, disunited, from family, friends, or community, chances are excellent it is because we are not grounded in God. Communion with God fills us with the Spirit that propels us outward. We would not try to grab & hold everything, fantasizing it could fill out inner emptiness. Instead, we would give our lives away knowing that more life from the source is always available. The proper flow is bringing inner strength to the troubled outer world, not the other way around.

In the Transfiguration narrative Jesus radiates outward. This is the sign of His communion with the Father. He & the Father do not flee to a remote seventh heaven. They move together with the only earth there is. This is what the disciples are meant to grasp. Communion with God does not extract us from reality, but plunges us into it more deeply than we might like, with all the beauty & ugliness, high hopes & disappointments that go with reality.

In the Transfiguration, our Lord’s inner world is revealed as transforming the outer world; & that is what we are called to do. Is there anyone who –feeling isolated & alone – has not reached out into the world & stuffed themselves with any excess available (be it food, booze, things, gossip, money, power, what-have-you – only to find that the inner emptiness remained & even intensified?

Is there anyone, who feeling grounded & at home, has not flowed out into the world with compassion & blessing only to find deeper compassion & more abundant blessing? It is these latter people who we can say have been transfigured with Christ. AMEN!