Mercy is the force that…instills in us the courage to look to the future with hope.
—Pope Francis, Jubilee of Mercy, #10
This weekend we have the story of the Transfiguration. In his reflection in Celebration Ted Wolgamot asks the question, What if?
What if…the Transfiguration in today’s Gospel was not really about a dramatic, dazzling change in Jesus, but was instead about the radical change that took place in the apostles: that they could see Jesus differently?
What if…today’s Gospel is really about transfigurations that take place in the lives of people around us. The kinds of changes that make us ask ourselves: Why haven’t I made that change, too?
What if…this story is ultimately a tale about you and me – and about moments in our lives when God opens our eyes to see the divine within and around us?
I remember many years ago taking a course in theology that changed my whole understanding of God. It was a stunning experience. It was like a veil had been lifted, a kind of “transfiguration.” I could see differently.
Perhaps what today’s Gospel is trying to get us to see is that the Transfiguration of Jesus isn’t a spectacular special-effects incident that took place a long time ago. It’s instead a sweet glimpse of heaven that can come to any of us right now – if we were able to see it.
It can happen to a mother, for example, when she first views the baby she gave birth to. It can happen to a person reading scripture when suddenly their eyes open wide at words that speak to a deep place within them. It can happen to a person listening to a great symphony or enjoying a walk on a brilliant autumn day or watching the delight of children on a Christmas morning or standing in awe before a masterful piece of art.
Transfiguration moments are experiences of enchantment that open our everyday mind to the heaven that is already present. If we can see it.
Scripture describes these moments continually. The Acts of the Apostles tells us transfiguration is the awareness that “we live and move and have our being in God.” It is the gift of wisdom that Moses received when he went up on a mountain, just like the apostles in today’s story, and realized that he was “standing on holy ground.” What Moses also grasped was that the famous “burning bush” he saw was not an earthen plant on fire, but the gift of vision in his eyes.
Like the apostles in today’s Gospel, he could see differently.
Unfortunately, like the apostles in today’s Gospel, we are often asleep.
Consequently, we tend to miss the clues, the hints, the suggestions of Something being afoot that is beyond our everyday recognition. Something that is way more than what meets the eye.
That is what Lent is really all about: It’s a time to sharpen our inner eyes so that we can better see the “holy ground” in our lives. It’s a time to ask:
What if: What if I can truly be transfigured?