Our life can be an experience both of desolation and consolation. We can experience 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 he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. (Mt 17:2). 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; 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, 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, especially over the past year, 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.
Spend some time with Jesus today. Immerse yourself in his ever-present love. I attached a picture of the crucifix hanging in the sanctuary at Our Lady of Florida Spiritual Center. May we spend some time looking at Jesus while he looks at us. Receive the love of Jesus the Christ, who not only died on the Cross but conquered and transfigured death so that we might experience life, so that we might be transformed to love ourselves and others as Jesus has loved us, into and through our times of consolations and desolations.
Photo: Crucifix from Our Lady of Florida Spiritual Retreat Center, Palm Beach Gardens, FL.
Link for the Mass readings for Sunday, March 18, 2020