Saturday, 19 March 2011

Father's Pride

GospelMatthew 17:1-9 

Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone. There in their presence he was transfigured: his face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as the light. Suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared to them; they were talking with him. Then Peter spoke to Jesus. ‘Lord,’ he said ‘it is wonderful for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ He was still speaking when suddenly a bright cloud covered them with shadow, and from the cloud there came a voice which said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour. Listen to him.’ When they heard this the disciples fell on their faces overcome with fear. But Jesus came up and touched them. ‘Stand up,’ he said ‘do not be afraid.’ And when they raised their eyes they saw no one but only Jesus.
  As they came down from the mountain Jesus gave them this order, ‘Tell no one about the vision until the Son of Man has risen from the dead.’

One of the many things I love about the Gospels is that it isn't just the people that Jesus comes into contact with that are transformed; but that Jesus also takes this journey of discovery and transformation himself.

If we chose to imagine Jesus as God in disguise, then many of the events in Jesus' life seem unnecessarily vague or secretive.The places he visits, the people he meets seem to randomly appear; as if Jesus himself is simply allowing himself to be distracted by whoever needs him next.

Maybe that's true; maybe Jesus, having grown up in the limitations of his own small world; finds it hard to accept that judgement and ill-treatment of others is so widespread.

Maybe, after rejecting the temptations of the devil to 'make it all better' he is frustrated by the fact that he can make very little of it 'better'. Maybe he actually has little more awareness of the 'Grand Plan' that his Father has for his life that we have for ours.

In the chapter before this one, Jesus is preparing his disciples for the journey to Jerusalem; perhaps they still didn't quite understand what was ahead - but all too clearly Jesus seems to realise where this walk is taking him.

And to get an even clearer view he takes some of them up a mountain.

Mountains in the desert are, more or less, vertical bits of desert. Climbing into the hot, breathless air exposed to the unrelenting fierceness of the sun and the rock shaping sandblasts of wind; there is little to recommend in the ascent except that, from the heights, there's a totally different view.

Like our own life's labyrinth, the desert gives few clues away; each rock looking much like another; each dried out riverbed leading back to the same emptied source. But from above a pattern emerges - where you have come from; how you have got here and where you are going to.

On the mountain top Jesus, for a moment, brings it all together.

Moses and Elijah are where Jesus has come from - their own legendary lives only signposts to the Way. The Way that shines brightly - transfigured, reminder of the Divinity that infuses every atom of his humanity.

The friends who are with him, Peter, James and John - the ordinary fishermen - the closest of friends yet hardest to convince. This is where he is now; in the thick of life; it's wonders and it's frustrations. Peter's nervous offering of a tent - the hospitality of a man used to  desert life and it's discomforts.

The future remains in the hands of Jesus' Father and it is not Jesus' divinity that is praised but his place as God's Beloved Son. You only have to say it out loud, to imagine the pride, the love in God's voice; giving Jesus the grace to move on; to take the next step; to go back down the mountain.

In our lives, in the lost twistings and turnings;  when our hearts are dry and our eyes are sandblasted by tears and sorrow;  it can be difficult to seek out God's blessing. The effort can seem too much when we are already weary, yet there is no-one else to go to.

Why climb a mountain only to have to come all the way down again? You may not be able to change the situation you are in, the challenges you are faced with; the road you are being asked to travel - but then, there is more than one way to travel.

Sometimes you have to rise up; lift yourself out of where you are;  take time to see where you are. You have to set the time aside to learn who can be relied upon; who are the friends who will help; to allow yourself to rest in God's light, in God's hands.  To hear the Father's words for ourselves 'You are my Beloved'.



Cecilia Yardley said...

Thank you for this :-) I like the idea of Jesus 'going with the flow' of interacting with whoever comes across his path. I've just come back from seeing 'The Adjustment Bureau' with its plot of life being mapped out v. free will. Certainly I've found that to be open to the presence of God in all the seemingly random encounters in my life (standing in a queue etc.) both 'banal' and 'big' is really enriching. I sense I miss out on the tang of what God is doing when I try to chivvy life along to conform to my Blackberry calendar.

Word in the Hand said...

Thanks Cecilia, i have become a hopeless case to my friends for the same reason- finding it more 'godly' to try to be 'here now' than to plan for the future. thank you for visiting - blessings m+x

claire said...

What a beautiful post, mairie! I enjoyed so many parts of it that to find my favorite one is hard. It is a reflection I will love to come back to; a reflection I will take with me tomorrow when I go to mass.
Thank you.

Word in the Hand said...

Happy Mass, Claire, I will remember you and your journey when I go myself. m+x

Mari said...

I love this post Mairie, the ending... take time to see where you are.....set the time aside to learn who can be relied upon... Very much needed for me at this time.

Thanks for writing so beautifully.

Margaret said...

Very well said, and just what I needed to hear. Lots of feeling like I'm in the desert these days. Thanks.

Word in the Hand said...

Mari and Margaret, thank you
the desert is a real place of encounter - not easy but invaluable. blessings m+x