today's readings are Gen. 12: 1-4; Psalm 33; 2 Timothy 1: 8-10; and Mt. 17: 1-9
It’s obvious from reading the gospels that many people had high expectations of Jesus. They believed that He was the one who was going to change everything and make life better for all, He would lead Israel into a new, glorious era. Quickly Jesus gained many followers, such as His disciples who dropped everything – their lives, their families, their work, everything - and followed Him. Talk about putting your trust in someone. And as for the ordinary folk, to Jesus they brought their sick, their blind and lame, and all their worries and problems - and placed it at His feet. As their expectations grew, so their demands for His time, His attention. To be honest, things were getting out of hand, it was getting too much.
Jesus needs a break – badly. He needs to get away – and He does so, but invites Peter, James and John, saying, “If you come, you’re going to see something really special”. Excitedly they begin climbing up the mountain, which was most likely Mt. Tabor, in northern Israel. Now there’s one thing about Mt. Tabor. It’s not that high, but it’s really steep. I can imagine the three of them trailing Jesus halfway up the mountain, huffing and puffing, and thinking to themselves, “Man, this better be good!” As it turned out it wasn’t good – it was great! Moses – Elijah – right there with Jesus! Naturally they wondered - could this be the moment - the moment when the whole world would change? Moses, the one who had brought the Jewish people into the Promised Land. Elijah, the greatest of the prophets, the one who single-handedly got the Israelites to change their ways from a sinful people to a glorious, faith-filled people. And there was Jesus, right there with them!
Peter and James and John probably thought that this was it, when change actually would begin: a change in which there would be a new world filled with peace, love and justice, with no more poverty, no more diseases, no more famine.
Much to Peter and James and John’s surprise, the change did happen - but in a way they didn’t expect. The world around them didn’t change, rather, it was He, Jesus, that changed – Our Saviour began to shine. Then everything around Him picked up that shine, that glow: the trees, the plants, the birds, Peter, James and John. Everything around him was different - because He changed.
But it was only after the resurrection of Jesus that those 3 apostles began to connect the dots, to understand that they too, and in fact every follower of Christ, in our own way needed to be transfigured, to change and become more Christ-like.
Thus, a very basic lesson is being shared with us – you want to change the world – start by changing yourself. Change yourself – transfigure yourself – and then just watch what happens to the world around you. But how do you affect that change and be more like Christ? By taking seriously the command spoken by the Father in today’s gospel: “Listen to Him.” Listen to Him, the Lord Jesus, our teacher, our Saviour. Listen to him in moments of prayer; listen to Him through the words of the Sacred Scriptures; listen to Him through our celebration of the sacraments, such as the Sunday Eucharist. By attentively listening to Him our change will begin – probably not in an overwhelming way like the Transfiguration, but it will begin – and we will impact the world of our families, friends, workplaces, classrooms.
Too often we Christians seem to be willing to wash our hands of any responsibility when it comes to improving our world. We see all these problems around us, and we say, “Somebody should do something about this”. Or even worse, we say, “Why doesn’t God do something about this, or, how God could let this happen?” But God looks at us and He says “You do something! I’ve already given you everything you need to create change in this world – I gave you your life, I gave you your talents, I even gave you my Son. Learn from Him, listen to Him, change and become more like Him!” “You mean me?” “Yes, you!” “But I’m just an ordinary person, what difference can I make, Lord?” “CHANGE!” “But I’m just a student, I’m just a parent, I’m just a senior, I’m just a priest!” “CHANGE!” “But I don’t know if I can do it, I’m too busy, I’m too tired, I’m too afraid!” “CHANGE!”
“Repent, and believe in the gospel”. Eleven days ago, on Ash Wednesday, that phrase was said to us as the ashes were placed on our foreheads. Do your really want to repent and believe in the gospel this Lent. The begin by Listening to Him. Then commit yourself to start changing and growing. And when you do that, you’ll start becoming the person God wants you to be. So, change.