Summary: We need to remember graced moments as a source of encouragement.
Second Sunday of Lent - Year C
March 4th, 2007
* Gen. 15:5-12, 17-18
* Phil. 3:17 - 4:1
* Lk. 9:28 - 36
A Good Day?
When we get up each morning, none of us knows what life has in store for us. Perhaps we will win the lottery, or then again, someone may rear end us on the way home from work. A common greeting that is used in some places is, "Have a great day!" Unfortunately, wishes don’t make reality. Every day appears in a completely new mask. Some days make us smile, while others scare us half to death. Days come in all shapes and sizes, including the good, the bad and the ugly. And yet, all of us need the strength to move through all of our days, no matter what they might look like.
Even Jesus needed that kind of daily support and comfort as he continued his journey towards Jerusalem and his impending suffering and death. His Father knew this and so to help his son move through these difficult times, he allowed him to experience his true and deepest glory as his chosen son. As the Scriptures describe it, "...while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to Jesus. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem."
Well, this event must have been what teenagers might call "awesome"! And what effect did this amazing experience have on Jesus? Well, it would be presumptuous to think that we could know with any certainty what went on within the mind and heart of Jesus, since Luke does not really give us this kind of detail. But we do know that Moses and Elijah were talking to Jesus about his departure. In other words, they were talking about his death. Now, remember, Moses and Elijah were men who lived and died many centuries before Jesus.
So, two men who had gone through the door of death were now talking to Jesus about his approaching death. Can you just imagine that having such an incredible experience as this would fill Jesus with wonder, awe, and perhaps a renewed sense of courage and faith in his Father’s love? Wouldn’t that be wonderful if we could have that kind of experience too, talking to those who had gone before us, receiving encouragement for the day to day fears and struggles in our own lives?
But perhaps the greatest moment of joy for Jesus on that mountaintop wasn’t just in talking with these two famous figures from the Old Testament, but in realizing that God’s promises are real. When he saw Moses and Elijah shining and alive in glory, he knew that no matter what suffering lay ahead of him, he could trust with a deep joy that all God’s promises would be kept. Death would really and truly be destroyed by new life.
This must have been an overwhelming moment of happiness and peace for Jesus. But even Jesus could not remain on the mountaintop forever. Encouragement, support and comfort are gifts that God wishes for each of us. Perhaps these encouraging signs don’t arrive on our doorstep everyday, but we need to be awake so that when they do come, we recognize them for what they are.
Our Peak Moments
Like Jesus, all of us can also experience certain peak moments of great joy. Maybe our marriage, the birth of a child, or even a life-changing accident or illness allowed us to feel a flash of truly awesome joy in life. Think for a moment of some experience so deep that you have never forgotten the power of it....
However, in spite of that "mountaintop experience" it seems that those moments of joy, no matter how wonderful, will never entirely satisfy the human heart. We still long for a permanent state of happiness...we cry out to be rescued from suffering and death. But life teaches us that we are more like nomads, desert travelers going forward from one oasis to another, sometimes needing help to remember that God has a homeland prepared for us at the end of our journey. So we sometimes use our memories and our imagination to help us through dark spots on the journey.
Lent is the season that reminds us that, yes, our lives are a journey through death. But we can trust the promise of new life at journey’s end. Lent challenges us to deeper experiences of God’s presence that equip us for the daily tiring, stressful, painful, or tedious parts of the journey. The mountaintop remains in the background. The "awesome" vision of glory and peace is remembered rather than relived. And yet a voice rings in our ears: ’This is my chosen Son; listen to him." We must never forget: God has also chosen US.