Sunday, March 17, 2019



   Image result for saint Patrick's Day gif


Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray.
While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became 
dazzling white. And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, 
and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem. 
Luke 9

What a difference a few years make! Depressed by the sexual abuse scandal and feeling unsupported in my work as a Vocation Director, this time of the year in 2004 I was at an all-time low. News about the sexual abuse scandal was so bad that I asked for some time off to regain my balance. I needed to pull myself together and get some clarity about what to do next. I spent the whole month of February that year, alone, in a small cottage, on a deserted beach, in northern Florida. I probably spoke to one person that whole month. I loved it. I got my clarity. I went from having one of the worst years of my life, to one of the best years of my life. Even though things have gotten even worse, I can now handle the constant drip of bad news much better now. I guess you can get used to anything!

Last week, we read about Jesus going off into the desert, alone, for forty days. He, too, was looking for clarity about what it might mean for him to be “God’s beloved Son,” an insight he had received from God at the time of his baptism. That time-in-the-desert took place at the beginning of his ministry. It was followed by many trips to quiet places, during his ministry, to seek clarity from God about what he was supposed to do next.

Today, we fast-forward to the end of Jesus’ life, the time before his final entry into Jerusalem for his crucifixion, death and resurrection. At this point in his ministry, Jesus could read the handwriting on the wall and it spelled SUFFERING, in big letters. This time he went to the mountain, to get final clarity on whether this impending suffering was really the right thing. The question Jesus wanted an answer to, was not “what do I want to do” or “what do people want me to do,” but “what does God want me to do?”

Just as a desert is a good place for introspection, a mountain is a good place for perspective. In a desert, there is nothing to distract you. You are forced to look within. On a mountain, you can see in all directions at once. On the mountain, Jesus got a glimpse of the past, the present, the future and how they all fit together.  On the mountain Jesus was able to “see the connections” between where he was, where he came from and where he was going.  

(1) Jesus saw his connection to the past. Israel’s two great heroes appear to him and talk with him: Moses and Elijah. They told Jesus that indeed he was the one they had, centuries ago, dreamed of and had foretold would someday come. They told Jesus that he was indeed on the right path and that he should indeed proceed onward. If their word was not enough, from a cloud, God repeats the words that he spoke to Jesus at his baptism, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”

(2) Jesus saw his connection to the future.  The words used to describe Jesus’ clothes becoming “white as light” are the same words used of his clothes at the resurrection.  His “white as light” clothing, gave him a glimpse of the glory to come. It helped him get a sneak preview of what was going to be on the other side of the suffering he was about to endure.

(3) Jesus saw his connection to the present, where he was on his journey. He tells his disciples, flattened with fear, that there was nothing to be scared of, even though they had to go down from the mountain and go through the pain ahead. This experience would help them through what was about to happen. In fact, this is where we get the expression “peak experience.” A “peak experience” is one of those magical times of spiritual experience that people, like good old St. Peter, like to hold onto or repeat again, but cannot. They are simply “glimpses of glory” and “sneak previews” of heaven itself. They are not meant to be permanent. They are meant to get us through the hard times. 

Going off to the desert, going off to the mountains, going off to the beach or simply going off to your room to listen to yourself think, to listen to your heart of heart, to listen to God is an absolute necessity for those who would follow Jesus.  The place is not important, but the listening is!  If you listen with your heart, you will get the clarity you need, no matter what questions you need to answer or problems you need to face.

No wonder so many in our culture seems to be so confused: our world is so crammed with noise that we cannot hear ourselves think.  We have been raised to believe that answers come when we can say what we want to do or when others tell us what we need to do. The only thing that will make us happy and get us back on our path is when we want what God wants for us.  The desert, beach, mountain or our room are just places of quiet, places quiet enough to hear that tiny whispering voice of God himself, deep within our own hearts. Lent, I believe, is not so much about giving up things as it is about giving up the constant noise that prevents us from hearing ourselves think!  

No wonder our culture seems so confused: our ears are being blasted with constant noise from cell phones, earphones and an over-saturation of electronic stimulation. No wonder our culture seems so confused: we consult our horoscopes and seek out expensive advice gurus, but we don’t take the time to go to the quiet and listen to ourselves.  We are driven to fill the quiet, to kill the quiet or to run from the quiet, as if the quiet were our worst enemy.  But the truth of the matter is, it is in the quiet that we get our bearings, clarity is given to us and a sense of who we are, and where we are going, is shown to us. 

My friends, the message today is simple: make friends with the quiet. In the quiet, everything falls into perspective, the path becomes clear and where we need to go becomes obvious. And to stay on the right path, we have to go to the quiet often, regularly and routinely, just as Jesus had to do!


No comments:

Post a Comment