Our life can be an experience both of desolation and consolation. There is an ebb and flow where 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 for: While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white (Lk 9:29). Jesus revealed his divine nature to his disciples in a powerful display to prepare them for the Passion that he was about to endure. The experience is also a foreshadowing of his 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 merits alone. 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.
Jesus is also 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 to embrace us 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 and transfiguration, for it reminds us that no matter what we go through, what trial that we may be in the midst of at this very moment, Jesus has experienced it, and is now, and will be present with us.
Looking and meditating upon Jesus on the Cross has provided me moments of transfiguration, granting me the courage that I did not have to face various conflicts, challenges and trials so to grow and mature as Jesus calls me to. 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 the ups and downs of my life, so that I too may be not only renewed but transformed.
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. Receive the love of Jesus the Christ, who conquered death on the Cross, transfigured death into life, so that we may transormed to love ourselves and others, into and through our times of consolations and desolations.
Photo: Crucifix in main sanctuary of Our Lady of Florida Spiritual Retreat Center, Palm Beach Gardens, FL.
Link for the Mass readings for Sunday, March 17, 2019: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/031719.cfm