Wow! What a difference a week makes. Last week, Jesus is in the desert for forty days with Satan as his companion. We hear the voice and temptations of the devil. This week, he is on a mountaintop with his key apostles, two huge prophets, Moses and Elijah, and God himself! And we hear the voice of God. You could not have a more dramatic difference. So what gives?
Every Lent brings back to focus the choice which confronts each of us throughout our lives. To choose as Adam and Eve did – to listen to Satan and disobey God. Or to choose as Jesus did, to say to Satan, “I reject you and all of your works.” Satan, who is a great liar and persuasive tongue – doesn’t ask us to sin big, but he plays upon our weaknesses subtlety to get us to turn from God – plays on our pride and ego. Judging the poor, turning our heads when others need help, little lies that lead to big ones. Each Lent we are afforded the unique opportunity to join Jesus in the desert. To reject Satan and all his works. It is a time for renewal – a time to change behaviors – a time to correct course. Jesus is the new “Adam”, showing us how to live our lives to the fullest.
And then we are given a glimpse of what is to come. That which is possible! Jesus is the new “Moses” embodying the eternal covenant of God in his very being! In the Transfiguration gospel we are given a vision of Christ – and our future so that we might seek it out. In the Transfiguration, in our graced moments with God, we are reminded to see beyond the suffering and recognize the final prize. It is our heart and our soul that lead the way. Through these times we give our full attention to God, just as the disciples did on Mt Tabor. Like Peter we say, “It is good to be here.” And we don’t want to leave. And this desire fuels and nourishes our journey. In these graced moments we become fully engaged with God. We are given a peek past the passion, the pain, to the glory of Easter. As we journey it is important for us to have those moments to remind us that while we do not know where our journey is taking us, we know who is along for the ride. All of us get down, struggle with the journey. Father Jim Willig, as he struggled with his cancer said it like this: “I do not know what my future holds, but I know who holds my future.” We need to be reminded sometimes – and we need to remind each other – of who holds our future. It is the hope of that future – the hope of Jesus Christ – that pulls us forward!
Paul reminds us in the second reading that it is God’s plan, God’s initiative, God’s love which calls us forward. He didn’t send his son for no reason – He sent his son to save us! And we are saved and called to holiness not by our own resources, but by the grace bestowed on us in Jesus Christ. We need to bear the hardships of life knowing that they ultimately lead us home. We need to understand that God is in control!! God is in control! But we must make the choice to say Yes to His plan! The choice of Jesus, and not the choice of Adam and Eve.
We hear the voice of God the Father echo the words he said at the Baptism of Jesus – “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased – listen to him!” “LISTEN TO HIM!!” Jesus is the way and the truth and the life. We have been called to be Christians, disciples of Christ. We have been called to follow Christ in every aspect of our lives, until our part in God’s plan is complete. As Catholic and Vincentians, we are called to be the presence of Christ to one another and in a particular way, those who are hurting. Anything less is insufficient, inadequate, incomplete.
As Vincentians, we are blessed with the opportunity to on occasion be the tool that God uses to provide transformative moments to those whom we encounter in our ministry. It may be neighbors in need or other Vincentians – or simply someone observing that which we do. The moments may be small glimmers of hope brought about by the food we offer or the words we speak. On occasion we may be blessed to see lives truly change before our eyes. In all instances, we are challenged to be open to the movement of God in our lives and through us into the lives of others. When we open ourselves to be His vessel, we allow Christ Himself to shine through for all to see – including ourselves. How do I humbly submit myself to God’s will for me and others? How will I make the hope of Christ evident through both my words and my actions?
Lord Jesus, use me as your vessel. Allow me to empty myself of my concerns, my prejudices, and my self-centeredness that I may make room for you to be truly present. If it be your will, use me to be a vehicle of transfiguration moments for others that they may come to know you and love you and serve you. We pray all of this in your name. Amen