Second Sunday in Lent
Matt 17:1-9; Gen 12:1-4a; Psalm 121; Roms 4:1-5
Jesus was transfigured before them and his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him…A bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.” The disciples fell on their faces and were terrified. Jesus came and touched (Peter, James, John), saying “Rise and have no fear.” And when they lifted their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.” Matthew 17:1-8
To be seen and known and touched are basic human longings that when met, set our souls free. One of my friends recently celebrated her birthday in a new city with new friends and team members. No one there really knew her birthday wishes but some friends from home sent videos in her honor that really touched her loneliness. A dear friend and I met for coffee to talk about our “word” for the new year. She made an observation about my giftings that showed she knows and sees me. I was deeply touched.
Matthew’s story of the transfiguration of Jesus is so rich and personal. It reveals a range of emotions and physical responses of his closest friends. James, John, and Peter fall to their faces in humility and wonder. Jesus is completely transformed to a state of spiritual glory and talks with Moses and Elijah about his “departure.” (Luke 9:31) In the amazement of the moment, Peter wants to put up three tents for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, but the two prophets disappear from the mountaintop to show the sufficiency of Jesus alone.
Jesus alone is what is needed. A bright cloud surrounds them and the voice of God says, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” Listen to Jesus only. See Jesus only. Follow Jesus only. With a touch of compassion for the fears and needs of his friends, Jesus helps them to stand up and see their Lord and Savior. With new courage, they look up to see “Jesus only.”
Reflect: Use your imagination to see Jesus in a new way, not bounded by the usual container you might limit him to, but the bright light of divine knowing and loving presence. What does it look like in your daily prayer life to look up and see no one but Jesus?
Think about a posture of humility that would allow Jesus to touch you and calm your anxiety and fear. Try it out and allow God to awaken your spirit as you are touched and seen in humility and praise.
Practice: Recollection. Surely Peter, James, and John recounted their glorious experience many times. Thirty some odd years later, Peter writes: “We were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” And “We ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.” 2 Peter 1:16-18
Search your heart and memory for experiences and images of encounters with the Divine Presence. In the ancient practice of Recollection, Teresa of Avila encourages us to remember those moments by returning to them using our imagination, not words. Recall what was going on around you, where you were, who you were with. Allow a symbol of the encounter to fill your awareness, such as a warm embrace, clouds, or healing light. Throughout the week allow the symbol to return you to the assurance of God’s active presence in your life.