Pastor's Pen, 2nd Lenten Sunday

In one sense the transfiguration is easy for us to understand. Jesus Christ is perfectly God and perfectly human – at the transfiguration he reveals both natures, the divine and human, to his disciples and all of us. In another sense it’s less clear but much more personal. Some years ago, while on retreat, I was given the transfiguration to pray. In the prayer I remember going up the mountain with the Lord and the others; I remember the appearance of Moses and Elijah; and, I remember seeing the other apostles kneel in adoration of the Lord. Not knowing what to do, I thought if St. Peter’s kneeling, so should I.

As I began to kneel, the Lord asked me to stop. He said that he didn’t want me to kneel and stay far from him, but rather, to come and be beside him. In our lives of faith, out of good intentions, we can often keep God at a distance. It is true that the principle act of Christian faith is worship. But occasionally that worship maintains a separation between ourselves and the Lord. If we look at our faith, the incarnation, Jesus’ public life, and the Paschal mystery, we can see a God who definitely does not want space between us. With the transfiguration God reveals his full self to us. And, in this revelation, or sharing of himself, there is an invitation from God to draw closer. But in drawing closer to a God who shares his full self we can feel, in a way, the ground being taken out from underneath us. I can live my life with rigid categories, concrete understanding and solid structure, yet in all these things, I can hide my true self.

In drawing near to someone who has shared his full self, it is hard for us not to try and do the same. This means that our categories, our understandings and our structures become weaker or even cast aside. The Lord does not want us to be far from him, he does not want to be alone from us, but he wants us to be at his side. To understand this, just think of those who are closest to you. Would any of us want to keep those we love the most far from us? Rather, we want them near to us. And when they draw near to us we offer to them simply who we are. I think the fear that the apostles felt at the transfiguration was seeing a God who loves each of us so intensely, that he would share his full self with us. It is much easier for us to keep God hidden behind a wall of incense or a statue that does not speak, that does not feel, that is not alive. Before us is the invitation to enter an intense love. In a way it is loving with no holds barred. Like the apostles we can feel fear and uncertainty, our categories, our understanding and our structures are so comfortable. And like Abram we are being invited to let all those things we know go and instead, to receive everything, that is, the intense love of the Father. Giving up what we feel sure of and comfortable in is not so easy. This is precisely why the Lord says ‘Do not be afraid.”

Do not be afraid to let the Lord love you as you are, and do not be afraid to love the Lord as he is. We are not meant to be far from him, but we are meant to hold his hand and be beside him. We are called to know the intensity of the Father’s love, and we are invited to accept it. Why not just jump in? The Lord wants you and is asking you to take his hand and be at his side. Church, let us go and take his hand, be at his side, and know in our hearts the intensity of the Father’s love.

Take Care; God Bless.

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