The Transfiguration of the Lord
2017 – Cycle A
Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14; Psalm 97; 2 Peter 1:16-19; Matthew 17:1-9
When God created the human being, though a significant event, it was not very public other than the animals watching and wondering how this creature would turn out.
When God became a human in Jesus, again the setting was not very public. Animals were again watching. This time parents were also present. A birth like any other birth. The significance hidden even more than the event.
When God raised Jesus from the dead. No one was present to witness. Needed is a leap of faith to look into an empty tomb to discover its true meaning.
How often Jesus chooses to encounter people in solitude. Jesus takes the man from Bethsaida who is blind away from the crowd and led him outside the village [Mark 8:22-26]. He frustrates the crowds and elders by writing on the ground so that he is left alone with a woman caught in the act of adultery. [John 8:2-11]. Does he purposefully travel through forbidden Samaritan territory to meet a woman at a well in the heat of high noon to converse with her alone? [John 4:4-41] Jesus forcefully puts mourners making all their noise out of Jairus’ house so as to enter in quietly with the parents to call a little girl back from the dead [Mark 5:21-24, 35-43]. When Jesus, after the resurrection, reconciled with Peter, it was not public. Just the two of them engaged in a discreet talk after breakfast. Three denials submerged in a pool of love [John 21:15-19].
Sight restored, a family reunited, forgiveness bestowed, a new life’s direction proposed, a friendship healed.
Why are these acts done privately and in solitude out from the view of people? Does Jesus not want his message out there?
Or is this what Jesus meant when he said the Kingdom of God was like yeast or like a small mustard seed? Is it that the Kingdom of God, rather than by using force, advertising and bluster, persuades, slowly works itself into a situation and coaxes itself into a person’s life?
Thus when God transfigured humanity, gave us a glimpse of what we shall be, it was on a mountain far from the maddening crowd. It was not public, just Jesus’ closest friends, who do not know exactly what is happening.
How many of the most significant times of our lives are not very public?
A marriage proposal. A reconciliation of a very deep hurt between siblings, friends, family members. The birth of a child. The pain of an intended/unintended wound by a sharp word that enlightens us to a truth about ourselves. The awe of being caught up in an unexpected experience of beauty. A warm sensation pouring over us when we encounter and accept God deeply into our hearts. A physician telling us of a serious diagnosis. Being laid off from work. The first movement of a baby in the womb. The lonely, unexpected sobbing over the death of…of whom? Those “Eureka!” moments of learning, of self-realization as we mature. The disappointment when we are rejected…for a job, college entrance, a relationship. The sharp, piercing stab when a spouse voices the desire for a divorce. Catching a glimpse from a distance at an airport, a bus terminal, a train station of a friend, a son or daughter, someone from whom time and distance have separated us and being filled with deep happiness.
What is the significance of these often unseen human events in our lives?
What is God revealing to us in them, revealing to us about God, about ourselves that we might be transfigured?
Gratia tibi. Wayne Saffern, The poem “Metamorphosis”.