On this 2ND Sunday of Lent, we hear Scriptural accounts of powerful experiences of God. Abram hears God directing him to leave his homeland behind to discover a new land which God will show him. He hears of God’s promise of blessing, and Abram followed the direction of God.
Peter, James and John also have a powerful experience of God (the Father) as they accompany Jesus during his transfiguration. And of course, Jesus himself, who is always in communion with the Father, has a mystical encounter with Moses and Elijah and is transfigured before the eyes of Peter, James and John.
We can tend to believe that these encounters of biblical figures with God and with Jesus are unique, that they were somehow or another privileged beyond our own capacity. I would suggest that instead they demonstrate what is possible for us; what God’s desire is for us. Just as God spoke to Abram, he desires to speak to us. Just as Peter, James and John came to know Jesus and through him the Father, so God reveals himself to us in the same manner.
The very fact that Jesus, as the Son of God, took on our human condition, lived upon the earth, walked among the men and women of his time, performed numerous miracles, preached God’s Word, suffered, died and rose again, is a strong indication that God desires to be with us – to reveal himself to us!
Because Jesus is risen from the dead, and kept his promise to send his Holy Spirit to be with us, he is now capable of keeping his promise to remain with us always.
I will not claim to know exactly how God spoke to Abram. Without in any way diminishing the significant role Abraham plays as the ‘Father of Faith, would it not be reasonable to believe God spoke to Abram in the similar fashion that we experience God? Lent is an invitation to all of us to be more aware of the presence of God at work in our lives, to be attentive to the voice of God speaking within the depths of our own hearts and in our own experience.
I hope each of us have had those experiences of encountering God. We should get up every morning expecting and desiring such and encounter. We should go to bed every night as well expecting the same. Perhaps those encounters take place within a profound appreciation of some beauty within nature. Or, perhaps there is a sense of the Divine that stirs our soul in the midst of our human relationships and love. Perhaps there has been a stirring experience of God in prayer, or silence, or a thousand other ways that God can capture the human heart.
Lent is a call to heighten our own awareness to the in-breaking reality of God.
When Peter was aware of his own encounter with the living God during the Transfiguration of Jesus, he wanted to build tents on the spot, as if to say he did not want the moment to end. He in a sense wanted to create a dwelling place for Jesus!
Lent is a time for us to create a dwelling place for Jesus.
Just as Peter, James and John had an experience of God the Father through Jesus, such is the same for us. To a large extent, this is a part of what it means for every human being to be created in the likeness of God. Since God is love, and the Trinity is a continual expression of love between the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we are created to participate in this love.
To create a dwelling place for Jesus means that we are to live with him in each moment of our life. We are to do as the Father tells Peter, James and John: “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” To listen to Jesus means we too will experience trials and struggles. That is why St. Paul tells Timothy: “Bear your share of hardship which the Gospel entails.” (2 Timothy 1:8)
When we follow Jesus, when we make our dwelling in him and allow him to make his dwelling in us – we are fortified to live the Gospel in all its fullness. We are strengthened to see through the false ways of this world and disciplined to make no accommodations for the worldly ways that dismiss the Gospel.
Lent is a time to root out the vice that has crept into our life and to redouble our efforts to grow in virtue.
Our heart longs for God. Our faith tells us to seek God and expect to encounter him in powerful and meaningful ways. Our faith calls us to a vibrant relationship with Jesus. Our mission as members of the Church and as disciples following the Lord is to proclaim the Gospel and to build the Kingdom of God.
As Christ was transfigured in the Gospel today, so may we be more and more transformed into the life of Christ this Lent in order to worthy celebrate the Resurrection this coming Easter!