Holy Spirit Province Saint-Esprit
Franciscans of Canada - Franciscains du Canada
Ordo Fratrum Minorum
I have always loved the Second Sunday of Lent. I know it’s a bit of an oddity to love one Sunday in a liturgical season, but I do love it. I love it because every year no matter which cycle of scripture readings we are in it is always the gospel about the Transfiguration of Jesus (Matthew 17.1-9, Year A). I think this gospel offers so much for us. With each passing year and each new crisis our world seems to face, for me, this reading always offers hope. I believe it offers hope because it emphasizes hope in qualities, we can all appreciate.
It speaks about friendship – “Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John…” (Matthew 17.1), “Suddenly there appeared with to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him” (17.3). Friendship is about the depth of bond, about being present to another, about truly seeing one another. Friendship speaks to us about our God and God’s desire to be one with us. Friendship is what our world needs these days and yet we fill the void with so much destruction and fear. Friendship is a greater source of hope than an empty void.
It speaks about transcendence (wholeness, state of grace) and light – “he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white” (17.2), “a bright cloud overshadowed them…” (17.5). Transcendence is at the core of each one of us. It is the piece of the divine which is woven into our DNA; the light at our core. It is our lives yearning for more, and striving to grow, to be transformed, to radiate and shine forth what is truly at the heart of who we are. Transcendence awakens us to authenticity – the God-gifted goodness which we all have and which calls us to be light to the world – to shine and dazzle. Light is always a source of hope.
It speaks about community – “It is good for us to be here… I will make three dwellings here…” (17.4). Community reminds us of our past but does not ground us, instead it provides a path for our future. Community challenges us to be in relationship with one another because we are all children of God. Community is about celebrating the successes and enduring the hardships, it is about building together the kingdom. The hope of community is that come to see the vast of God’s amazing creativity.
It speaks about being beloved – “from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased…” (17.5). Being beloved is about being valued and our inherent dignity. Each one of us are beloved of God, no matter our life journey: our greatness or our sins. Being beloved is closely tied to transcendence. Being beloved is knowing and seeing in each other that there is goodness and a desire to be our best selves. In a society which is stripping us of our “belovedness” and dignity, we must rise above this darkness and trust that the light at our core oozes out regardless of who we are. God looks on us with love, we must not forget this is a gift of hope.
It speaks about listening – “listen to him!” (17.5), Jesus said, “Get up and do not be afraid” (17.7). Listening is a key element of friendship, transcendence, community, and being beloved. Listening moves us beyond our own little world and in a sense forces us to be aware of another’s world. Listening stirs within us and causes us to ponder where we hear God, who is speaking truths to us, what it means to be a person of dignity, how does light penetrate my darkness and how do I see and acknowledge that each person I encounter is the beloved. Listening is what our God does for us and what our God asks us to do for each other. Listening is a spark of hope in what can often be darkness for so many.
It speaks about Christ with us – “As they were coming down the mountain…” (17.9). It is here that I may have finally realized why I have loved the Second Sunday for so long. I always thought it was about Christ being our light and the light we hold and share or about us being beloved and valued as well. It is true these qualities have greatly influenced me and have offered me comfort and strength; however, it is this “new found” reality of Christ with us on the other side of mountain of transfiguration which strikes me most. When I have been a good friend and when I failed to be a friend, Christ has been present. When I have failed to see how transcendence and light are part of me and when they have filled my eyes, Christ has been present. When I have built community and when I have failed to be a part of community, Christ has been present. When being beloved has only been an illusion and when I have fully embraced this gift, Christ has been present. When I have failed to listen and when I am all ears, Christ has been present. Christ with us – the promise made in the announcement of his birth, the promise made coming down the transfiguration mountain, the promise made on the Emmaus road, the promise made at the ascension. Christ with us, this is true hope. The whole spectrum of the life of Christ is hope for us all.
This hope is the way we are to walk our Lenten path with friendship and in community. Called to listen to each other (and God), aware that we carry a light which is the gift of being beloved and acknowledging that transcendence, which makes us who we are, is truly what molds us into the Body of Christ.
Christ you are ever present,
and you transform our ways.
You walk with us
down the mountains,
through the valleys,
on all the paths of life.
Christ you walked down the mountain
with your dear disciples
and you do the same with us.
This indeed is good news
for our Lenten journey
and each day of the journey home to you.
Christ you transfigure our ways,
you transform our lives,
you truly see us for who we are
you raise us to life,
and for this we give you thanks and praise.