The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
March 8, 2020 – Second Sunday of Lent - Matthew 17:1-9
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For hundreds of years faithful Jews prayed that God send to them a saviour, one who would come amid an impressive display of power and might. Perhaps God could arrange for major fireworks in the sky, or at least, a fully equipped army marching ahead that would destroy God’s enemies. But that’s not how it happened although there were a few moments that impressed those who were faithful to God. But many wanted more. They wanted to impress (and perhaps scare) God’s enemies. But that’s not how it all happened.
Today we hear about the transfiguration of Jesus, which took place before a small group of disciples, and far from the television cameras. Jesus gave his followers a brief glimpse of his identity and his closeness to God. He took on the appearance of a divine being and, of course, those present were suitably impressed. So much so, in fact, that they didn’t want to leave that mountaintop scene. They said that they wanted to build tents (like the one that once sheltered the Arc of the Covenant) for Jesus and for Moses and Elijah. Something a bit more permanent.
And just when they sought to preserve this miraculous event, it was over. The sky that glowed disappeared; the words that seemed to come out of the cloud became silent and the two important figures from their history all departed. The show was over. It was time to go back to normal. Jesus said something to the effect that they should get back down to earth and head for Jerusalem where something even more wonderful (and difficult) awaited them. No doubt, the disciples descended the mountain with even more questions than they had before they climbed earlier that day.
Yes, they had a glimpse of new possibilities, but first, they needed to accompany Jesus on his way to his great act of giving himself fully for them and for us. Along with Jesus they would face the full force of sinfulness and evil. What Jesus had mentioned to them right before they climbed that mountain awaited them. Something about suffering and dying. And a cross.
Our lives, like that of Jesus, take place on the hard edges of each day. He had to carry his cross as we do ours. But it’s also good for us to recall moments when we experienced the goodness of life. Like his disciples on the mountain that day, there are blessings to enjoy and moments to recall. They are all part of God’s loving plan for each of us. And God is always with us in both good times and those when we’re not sure.
©David M Thomas, PhD