Second Lent

The Introduction 

“There lives the dearest freshness deep down things”. So Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins affirms in his poem, “God’s Grandeur”. No matter how battered and weary our world becomes, over centuries of travesties and unmet need, the vitality of hope waits under the surface, like crosses beneath the snow. Things aren’t as they appear. A hidden glory is always in the wings.

Abraham didn’t know this, on that sad day he trudged up the mountain with his son. We don’t sense this, on the endless, sleepless nights we grieve hopeless situations. The disciples didn’t imagine this on the day they followed Jesus up the mountain, expecting to see nothing more than the land. How could they know that all of heaven was about to break loose on top of that hill?

There’s a hidden glory deep in the heart of things. We glimpse it in flowers and in sunshine, but also in the shadowy places and ominous trails we fear to travel. Glory is concealed in our losses, glory awaits behind every cross. You can’t see Easter from Good Friday. But that doesn’t mean it’s not there.

The Scripture (Mark 9: 2-4 The Transfiguration)

Six days later, three of them did see it. Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain. His appearance changed from the inside out, right before their eyes. His clothes shimmered, glistening white, whiter than any bleach could make them. Elijah, along with Moses, came into view, in deep conversation with Jesus.

The Story – Have and Hold

On a cold July day in a time before COVID, after several months of battling cancer, weeks in and out of hospital, and finally intensive care, my brother-in-law died peacefully around noon, his wife, my sister, at his bedside. My sister had gradually accepted that his death was inevitable – but the reality of that enormous void in her life was a pain we all felt as well. Her five siblings accompanied her home that day.

When we pulled into her driveway we could see that her home already was filled with our spouses, children, and grandchildren – my sister’s nieces and nephews. In true Aussie style, friends had already started bringing food with their condolences. My sister, the ever-generous host, got right to work making sure everyone ate, as she accepted hugs from family and friends.

There was considerable commotion in the house, the very young providing both distraction and joy. As the afternoon turned to evening, the little ones headed home with their parents. The few people who remained gathered in the living room. I don’t know how long we sat there before it dawned on me that it was six of us siblings who remained. I couldn’t think of another time in our adult years when we have been alone like this, only the six of us, and I felt this deep sense of awe. The conversation was filled with stories and memories, with laughter and tears. As I looked at each face, I felt the love, the solidarity, and the bond of family unity. I felt the delight of our deceased parents- and the serendipitous presence of God. Filled with gratitude, even in the midst of grief, I had a sudden urge to treasure and hold on to this moment forever.

The Reflection

In the verses that precede this Gospel story, Peter rebuked Jesus for saying that he will have to suffer greatly and ultimately be killed. The apostles did not want to accept the fact that the man for whom they had already given up so much would lead them down a path ending in a cross. The Transfiguration did not answer all their questions and it would not make sense until the Resurrection. But when that time came, the point of all the sacrifices and crosses they endured was revealed.

The Commissioning

Go from here as those who confidently serve God.
We will serve Jesus and care for the needy.
We will serve Jesus and live hopefully.
We will serve Jesus and venture confidently.
We will serve Jesus and question persistently.
We will serve Jesus and face intimidation courageously.
We will serve Jesus and dream and vision gloriously.
In our great moments and in our low moments, we will serve Jesus faithfully.
You have everything to hope for, and you have nothing to fear. Go in peace.

GPBS © (2024)

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