The imagery in today’s Gospel account of the Transfiguration of Jesus is so striking that it can be very difficult to relate that moment in Jesus life to our own. After all, “his face shone as the sun…his clothes became as white as light.” And, Moses and Elijah appeared at his side and a voice from heaven confirmed that God was pleased with Jesus, God’s Son! Wow, what an exciting moment that must have been!
The reaction of Peter, James and John is a bit more familiar to us, “they fell prostrate and were very much afraid.” There have been moments in all our lives when we were so overwhelmed with events that we’ve been very much afraid and fallen to the ground, figuratively if not literally. The experience of having to face challenges in our lives that are beyond our strength or abilities is one we all have way too often in our lives.
That must have been how Abram felt when, in our first Reading today, God told him to pack up his household and go “to a place I will show you.” It takes a lot of faith to step out of our safe, familiar world, into the unknown…even when asked to do so by God.
Timothy, too, was asked to do a task that was beyond his experience; to become the leader of the whole Christian community in Ephesus. St. Paul tells him in today’s second reading. “Bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.” St. Paul reminds Timothy, and us, that it isn’t his or our personal strength that is important. God will give the strength and wisdom necessary to complete the task that God gives us.
As we continue on our Lenten journey of deepening our faith and trust in God, sooner or later most of us come to realize that we don’t have the ability on our own to change the things in our lives that are holding us back from a deeper love for God. But that realization need not discourage us. The Scriptures today remind us that the strength we need “comes from God.” And, it doesn’t come from God at some nebulous future point in time, but it is bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began….” So, contrary what we may feel, even fear, about our inability to change, we can by the power of God, a power clearly revealed in Christ’s love for us. We pray for openness to God’s transforming love today.
Fr. Michael Higgins, C.P. is the director of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.