Our life can be an experience of desolation and consolation. There are ebbs and flows in which we suffer from trials and also celebrate joys. The key to living a life of faith is to see God in both experiences. Jesus today provides an opportunity for Peter, James, and John, the inner circle of the Twelve, to experience an expression of his divinity as “he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them” (Mk 9:2-3). Jesus revealed his divine nature to his disciples in a powerful display to prepare them for the Passion that he was about to enter into. The experience is also a foreshadowing of the Resurrection.
Jesus invites us to experience the Transfiguration, the Passion, and the Resurrection in our own lives. We can miss a transfigured moment, when we assume a posture of pride, not acknowledging God’s leading by believing we achieved or arrived at our present station in life on our own merits. We can experience moments of transfiguration when we acknowledge that God breaks into our lives at that moment when we needed him the most and recognize the assistance he has given us, and/or when he has revealed to us the path and direction we were to take. The natural response is to offer prayers of thanksgiving, recognizing that we don’t go it alone, that God and those he sends to help us are a tremendous support.
We have to be careful to also see that Jesus is present in our desolations. Many of us run from our suffering, we are afraid of the cross. But it is through the cross that we come to experience the resurrection. We may not be aware, but when we run away from our suffering we are running away from Jesus who awaits us with arms wide open in our suffering, to comfort us, heal us, and transform us. But to embrace Jesus, we need to be willing to embrace our suffering.
The older I get, the crucifix becomes more and more a consolation for me, this icon of Jesus, his body broken emptied out for us on the cross. It represents how he entered the full range of our human condition, he assumed our sin, our anxiety, fear, and selfishness, and transformed the worst of our fallen nature through his love such that we are redeemed. The crucifix is not a sign of despair, but of hope, reminding us that no matter what we go through Jesus has experienced it and will be present with us. Looking at Jesus on the Cross has provided me moments of transfiguration, giving me the courage that I do not have, to face the conflicts and trials before me. As he looks down from the cross he continues to love me despite my sin, my weakness, and failures, and is willing to lead and accompany me through my trials and tribulations, so that I may be transformed, renewed.
Jesus invites us to spend some time with him today, to immerse ourselves in his ever-present love. Here is a picture for us to meditate on. May we spend some time looking at Jesus while he looks at us. Let us allow him to love us so we may love ourselves and others into and through our consolations and the desolations.
Photo: Crucifix in the main sanctuary of Our Lady of Florida Spiritual Retreat Center, Palm Beach Gardens, FL, where the deacons and wives were invited yesterday to a powerful Lenten Day of Reflection led by Fr. Ducasse Francois, pastor of St Juliana Catholic Church.
Link for the Mass readings for Saturday, February 25, 2017: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/022518.cfm