Reflection for Sunday – March 5, 2023
Readings: Genesis 12:1-4; 2 Timothy 1:8b-10; Matthew 17:1-9
Preacher: Irene Goodwin
It is the Second Sunday in Lent. Last week we heard how the spirit led Jesus to the desert where he was tempted. If we followed the Gospel, we would have heard how Jesus began to gather disciples. Instead, today we hear the beautiful story of the Transfiguration. We may wonder why it was placed on this Second Sunday as we journey toward the Passion of Jesus.
Scripture scholars also give us great questions around this reading of the Transfiguration. Is this a subjective vision, a dream or misunderstanding of a natural event or a symbolic story? Some think it was actually a story of the resurrected Jesus, placed as a pre-Easter event by Mark.
Whatever the case, the evangelists have placed it as Jesus is beginning to prepare his disciples for his coming passion and death. He has told them for the first time that he will suffer and die. They do not understand but he will keep telling them. Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem where he will be mocked, beaten and crucified.
Those who had stood in the streets singing Hosanna will be gone along with his most beloved friends. He is preparing his disciples for what will happen to him. Jesus takes his inner circle up a mountain. There is a cloud, a voice from heaven and Jesus is transfigured. To make the event even clearer to Peter, James and John and the reader, Moses and Elijah appear. Two figures from the Hebrew Scriptures who were initially rejected by the people but were vindicated by God. Both worked miracles and were considered transcendent figures. One brought us the covenant and one did not die but was taken directly to heaven. Could the evangelist have been any clearer.
We also realize that the evangelists were reminding their own communities that Jesus did tell them there would be difficult days. Today the evangelist reminds us as well, that there may be difficult days. However, they and we are reminded that Jesus gave the disciples a glimpse of future glory. No matter the circumstances we always seem to need hope in our lives. Jesus provided the disciples with hope for the future. We are provided with that same hope.
When we are in the midst of a crisis or even when it just seems like the news could not get any worse, we go to our faith and the belief that there will be a better day. We have hope. We look for signs all around us. It may be as big as watching a newborn pulled from under a building in Turkey or as simple as a friendly smile.
When my grandson turned five his dad bought him a turtle, they named it Yellow Shell. They were told that it was very active. When they got it home, it was a very quiet turtle and then in November it went into its cave and did not come out. It was hibernating. They worried was Yellow Shell, okay? Should they leave food out? Then when least expecting it in early February, Yellow Shell reemerged. Low and behold he was a very active turtle. Climbing on his cave, jumping off into its water dish and other antics. Every year it is the same. Yet, this year it went into hibernation and there was still worry. Then, on the coldest day in February out came Yellow Shell and it was received with great joy. It may be similar to how we feel when here in the Northeast when we see a crocus sprouting out of the snow, or we see the first group of geese flying north. I told my son; it seems like a sign of hope. All will be well.
Abraham was sent from his homeland to wander in foreign lands but he had a promise of blessing. We too may be asked to travel through foreign lands. Will we keep hope alive knowing we have been given a blessing and a promise of future glory?
It is lent! Is it not a time to strengthen ourselves for our journey? Some of us may give up food or drink. Others may try to spend more time in prayer. Some will take time to examine their conscience. We may find more ways to reach out to help others or even work on a trait we think could use improving. For six weeks we live a little differently, that on Easter we may reemerge with new hope for our lives.