Sunday, February 21, 2016


   Second Sunday of Lent   C 
29-year-old Joshua Myers of Yakima, Washington
was born with Down Syndrome.
“I consider it a gift,” he now says,
“but at first I thought it was a curse.”
Josh was overwhelmed by his disability
and struggled with depression.
As a teenager, he attempted suicide—
walking out into the middle of a busy intersection.
“I just wanted to kill myself,” Josh says,
“but a lady stopped in front of me.”
A woman he hadn’t met before 
(and has never seen again)
got him into her car and talked with him.
Only the two of them can know what was said…
…but we can guess from the outcome.
Instead of feeling that his condition is too much,
today he has big dreams for the future.
“One of them is to be a minister,” Josh says;
“the other is wrestling in the WWE…”
How does Josh describe his life now?
“Awesome,” he says.  “I love my life.”

Why was Jesus transfigured?
What with his glowing face, brilliant clothing,
a voice booming from above,
the entire scene enveloped in a cloud,
it’s easy for us to imagine that this vision of glory
is meant to reveal the divine nature of Jesus beyond all doubt.
Peter, John, and James had been followers of the Lord
for quite some time.  
Yet despite the many healings and exorcisms,
despite the calming of a stormy sea,
despite the feeding of a crowd of thousands,
despite all his authoritative teaching—
they still haven’t fully recognized Jesus for who he really is. 
And so before they walk with him
on what would be his last journey to Jerusalem,
we reasonably assume that the Transfiguration transpires
to dispel any lingering question of Jesus’ true identity
as God’s chosen Son.

But if we stop there, we’re really missing out.

For one reason or another,
the American Trappist monk, Thomas Merton,
was outside his Kentucky monastery in March of 1958.
He found himself in the city of Louisville,
in the middle of the busy shopping district,
on the corner of Fourth and Walnut.
And there, among all these fast-moving people,
he had a mystical experience.
It is a glorious destiny, he realized,
to be a member of the human race,
though it is a race dedicated to many absurdities
and one which makes many terrible mistakes:
yet, with all that, God Himself gloried 
in becoming a member of the human race.
A member of the human race!
To think such a commonplace realization 
should suddenly seem like news that one holds 
the winning ticket in a cosmic sweepstakes.
I have the immense joy of being man,
a member of a race in which God became incarnate.
As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition
could overwhelm me,
now I realize what we all are. 
And if only everybody could realize this!  
But it cannot be explained.
“There is no way of telling people
that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”
…It was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts,
the depths of their hearts
where neither sin nor self-knowledge can reach,
the core of their reality,
the person that each one is in God’s eyes.
If only they could see themselves as they really are.
If only we could see each other that way
all the time. (from Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander)

at his Transfiguration Jesus is revealed
as God from God and light from light.
We’re given insight into just how we who dwell on earth
ought to look up to heaven through Christ.
But because in Jesus we see divine glory shining on a human face,
his Transfiguration also reveals something
of how heaven is looking down on us.
Yes, we’re given a privileged glimpse of divine glory…
…and we’re also given a glimpse of humanity
as God originally intended:
mere mortals transformed by eternal light;
men and women of earth become full citizens of heaven—
not only later, after death, but here and now.
What Peter, John, and James witnessed on that mountaintop,
Thomas Merton saw on a Louisville street corner
and Josh Meyers discovered in a kind stranger’s car:
only in the surpassing light of God’s presence
could they behold their own immense worth and dignity.
Sure, we often enough fail to see God.
But it’s also the case that God sees things in us
we don’t often see in ourselves.

Did you know that you—and everybody around you—
is, like Jesus, a beloved, chosen child of God?
Have you ever realized that, in the merciful gaze of the Father,
we all walk around shining like the sun?

Lent is a perfect time for getting to know Jesus—
not for learning more about Jesus,
but for coming to know him personally, to know him intimately.
Discover for yourself Jesus’ true identity,
and soon enough you’ll discover your own—
discover that life is never a curse,
but a truly awesome gift.

No comments: