Our life can be an experience of both 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, John, and James, 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 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 interjection into our lives by believing we achieved or arrived at our present station in life on our own merits alone. On the other hand, 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 of a consolation. This icon of Jesus, his body broken and emptied out for us on the cross, shows the depth of his love for us. He took upon himself the full range and suffocating weight of our sins and transformed even the worst of our fallen nature through his love. The crucifix is not a sign of despair, but of hope and transfiguration, for it reminds us that no matter what we are experiencing, what trial that we may be in the midst of at this very moment, Jesus has experienced it, and is now, and will always be present, experiencing it with us, and all the while, inviting us to participate in his work of redemption for all.
Looking and meditating upon Jesus on the Cross has provided me moments of peace and consolation, granted me the courage that I did not have to face various conflicts, challenges, and trials so as not to be crushed but instead to have been able to be strengthened through my weakness. The crucifix is a reminder that Jesus continues to love each one of us as we are right now, despite our sins, brokenness, and failures, and each moment is an opportunity to begin again as he accompanies each one of us through the ups and downs of our lives.
I invite you to spend some time with him today. Immerse yourself in his ever-present love by gazing upon the picture included here, with your own crucifix, or simply rest silently with Jesus. Spend some time looking at Jesus while he looks at you. Allow the love of Jesus to gently wash over, heal, and renew you. Jesus conquered and transfigured death so that we can be restored to enter into the intimate relationship with God that we have been created for.
Photo: Crucifix in main sanctuary of Our Lady of Florida Spiritual Retreat Center, Palm Beach Gardens, FL.