Sunday Reflection - Second Sunday of Lent

Sunday Reflection - Second Sunday of Lent

Posted: Sat, 12 Mar 2022 13:31

Sunday Reflection - Second Sunday of Lent

Today we have Luke's account of Transfiguration—that special time when Jesus took Peter, James and John to the top of Mount Tabor. For the people of the Covenant, the mountain has special significance, as it is here that they feel close to God. In our first reading from the Book of Genesis, God makes a solemn promise with Abraham, our own father in faith. As we continue our journey through Lent, this sacred incident helps us understand who Jesus is.

In this significant event, Luke tells us that 'the aspect of his face changed.' The face is so important: we can look at someone and, very often, gauge their mood and feelings. I remember my nana telling us about people having 'a lived-in face'—it is in truly looking into the face of others that we might be able to see the joys and scars that life has given them. Today is a reminder to look at others when we communicate with them. In our busy lives, we can so often look over people: I am reminded of the busy working dad who was trying to get on with preparing tea for the family at the end of a busy day. His small daughter was telling him stories about her day in school. She became increasingly frustrated as she saw her dad sorting out ingredients and pans. "Daddy, please listen to me!", she implored. "But I am listening to you, darling" replied her dad. "No Daddy," cried his daughter, "listen to me with your eyes!" The little girl fully understood real communication: in looking into to the face of the other, we can find true meaning. Sometimes sitting down with those special ones in our lives, is far more important than getting the tea ready. When the Sir Matt Busby of Manchester United FC died, one of his top players, Denis Law was asked what his greatest memory was. He reflected for a while and said, "my greatest memory of Sir Matt is watching his face the night we won the European Cup!"

We all have to put on face or masks as we go through the pain that life sometimes brings us. We might appear to the world as happy, genial and happy, while, inside our personal lives, there might be pain and chaos. When life is good, the world will see your bright beaming face which, as St Teresa of Calcutta reminds us, it is important to 'always greet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.' When life is bad, you may still show that same smile because you do not want to bring pain to those you value in life.

I remember being shocked and deeply hurt when a person I thought of as a friend, betrayed me deeply. His warmth and welcoming smiles hid a cruel nature that nearly destroyed me. To be honest, it really undermined my acceptance and trust—for some time I was distant from everyone, thinking if he could do this to me, then anyone could. If we are not careful then such two-faced behaviour can ruin lives. I suppose I was mad with myself that I could not see through the hypocrisy and narcissism of this 'friend'. Thankfully, since then, I have seen lots of friendly, warm and honest faces that helped me to restore my natural trust in the basic goodness of everyone.

These three special friends of Jesus found glory in the face of Jesus. It was not the face they were accustomed to seeing around Galilee, Samaria and Judea. On Mount Tabor, Jesus revealed his divinity—in his total humanity, the apostles knew when Jesus was excited, elated, hurt, in anguish, or in pain. Like us all, Jesus revealed his feelings and emotions through his face—unlike some of us, Jesus is not two-faced! Those chosen friends of Jesus received that support and encouragement that would help through the difficult times. This Transfiguration experience would be the reservoir of hope that they could draw on at the time of Passion, crucifixion and the death of Jesus. When all hope seems to have evaporated, there is always something or someone we can rely on.

I hope, just like me, you have experiences of Transfiguration in your own lives. Perhaps, it was a retreat or pilgrimage that supported you. It could be something as simple as sharing a 'cheeky cuppa', or even something stronger, at the end of a busy week. You may look back on a special holiday and realise that everything was so special and perfect. These events become your points of reference during your hard times. Thank God that you have good memories of family and friendship to draw on through problems and discord. I suspect that most of us have used these memories to get us through the tough times around the pandemic.

As we journey from Mount Tabor to Mount Calvary, we realise that we must move forward together. Peter wanted to stay on the mountain top because it was good and safe. Jesus, however, helps him to realise that we are all called to live in the real world, with real faces. It might be wonderful to live on the 'mountain tops' of life, but reality calls us to live the incarnation, no matter how difficult it can be. I pray that this blessing of the Irish mystic, John O'Donohue be especially yours on this day of transformation and challenge:

May you know tender shelter and healing blessing when you are called to stand in the place of pain. May the places of darkness within you be surprised by light. May you be granted the wisdom to avoid false resistance and when suffering knocks on the door of your life, may you be able to glimpse its hidden gift. May you be able to see the fruits of suffering. May memory bless and shelter you with the hard-earned light of past turmoil, to remind you that you have survived before, And though the darkness is now deep, You will soon see approaching light. May this give you confidence and trust. May a window of light always surprise you. May the grace of transfiguration heal your wounds

Author: Fr Gerry O'Shaughnessy SDB
Image: Joel Mott on Unsplash

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