Recently, at the Villa we were watching a documentary on Sisters aired on Salt and Light T.V. In an interview, a Sister in Africa suddenly asked, “Am I simply an admirer of Jesus Christ or am I his follower?” It was one of those “wake-up” questions for me! It’s accompanied me on this ongoing Lenten journey, disturbed me from my comfort zone, made me “spiritually sweat” a bit! And such questions can be great gifts to us as we try in this season of Lent to deepen our Christian commitment not just for 40 days but for all of life. Am I an admirer of Jesus Christ or am I his follower?
This past Sunday we heard read in churches that powerful Scripture story of the Transfiguration of Jesus (Mark 9:2-10). It’s the story in which Jesus takes Peter, James and John up a mountain. There he is transfigured, changed in form, and he shows them his glory. Why? Well, Scripture scholars tell us it is a story of “en-courage-ment”; encouragement for Jesus as he turns toward Jerusalem to endure his suffering for the love of the world. It was also the way in which the disciples found courage for the road ahead, for their time of confusion, sadness and disillusionment. It would sustain them in their faithfulness to following Jesus, to establishing his “kin-dom”, whatever the cost. It is also a story meant to encourage us on our journey in faith and loving action.
We might want to say though, “I haven’t ever experienced anything so stunning as this event.” Well, maybe not but we have had and continue to have glimpses of God’s glory in our everyday lives. We do experience “transfiguration” in many small ways. These are moments of special grace. Perhaps I’ve experienced a “gaze” into the glory of God, in the astonishing beauty of nature, in falling in love, in experiencing great generosity in another, in successfully arriving at a desired goal in life. Maybe it is when we look into the eyes of a newborn child and see “the face of God”, in moments of forgiveness and mercy, in a treasured friendship, for some it will be personal encounters with Christ in the Sacraments of the Church, or simply in moments of peace and contentment. These are the God-given moments to encourage us on life’s journey because as St. Ignatius Loyola teaches us God is in all things as well as beyond them.
Sometimes like misguided Peter on the mountain we simply want to stay in that safe, comfortable place, and it is a good place for us, an experience to strengthen us and for which we give thanks but there is “MORE”. As with Peter, Jesus led him down the mountain into life’s realities and into his call to follow Jesus whatever the cost. So too, Jesus leads us in all the realities of life. From our small gifts of “transfiguration”, joy and peace we are called to trust in God’s Presence, to share “Good News” in our world, to move beyond our fears, to stand in unfamiliar places, to contribute in our own small but beautiful ways to building a world of peace, love, service and justice. In a word, to become truly followers of Jesus Christ. May you find in this ongoing season of Lent all the blessings of the journey we share.