Pastor’s Reflections

I am so tickled by the promises made in TV Laundry detergent commercials. They claim their product can make your laundry dazzling white and colors vibrant.  The accounts of Jesus Transfiguration make a similar claim.  Particularly Luke.  His Transfiguration was not only about a dramatic, dazzling change in Jesus and his clothes, but also about the radical change that took place in the apostles—that they could see Jesus differently?

What if … today’s Gospel is really about transfigurations that take place in the lives of people around us, the kinds of changes that make us ask ourselves. What if … this classic story we hear in the 2nd Week of Lent is also and ultimately a tale about you and me – and about moments in our lives when God opened our eyes of our souls, and we were able to recognize the divine within and around us?

In the late sixties, Trappist Thomas Merton tells the story in Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander about how he was doing something as simple as standing on a street corner in downtown Louisville, KY., when a transfiguration experience happened to him.  The city and the people walking around began to glow.  “There is no way of telling people that they are walking around shining like the sun.”  What he discovered in that moment was that “the gate of heaven is everywhere.”

Dr. Martin Luther King said before his death that he had been to the mountain top. We often do as well.  It can come in prayer that is open to the Spirit, or a bit of unplanned solitude; in a hospital bed or in the Sunday Scriptures, in the greeting of a hospitality minister in the front door or favorite hymn that comes to mind at an odd time.  Our Lent connects us to God’s promises from the past, brought into the present and ‘played forward’ into an eternal life.

What if the Transfiguration story of Jesus isn’t a spectacular special-effects incident that took place a long time ago?  It’s instead a sweet glimpse of heaven and reality that can come to any of us right now — if we are able to see it.

Transfiguration moments are experiences of enchantment that open our everyday mind to the heaven that is already present, if we can see it.  Lent is a seasonal opportunity to practice seeing the dazzling in the every day.  “Life is this simple,” Thomas Merton said.  “We are living in a world that is transparent and the divine is shining through it all the time.”  If we can see it.

Stay with us through the Basilica’s many Lenten devotions and activities.  They help us see better.

A gentle week,
Fr. Michael Weldon, OFM

Thanks to Celebration’s Ted Wolgamot “Glimpse of Heaven”, for parts of this reflection.

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