These reflections continue to make apparent the ways that God is working in my life and my journey. I hope and pray that it may encourage you:
In the Gospel today(Luke 9.28-36) Jesus paints for us a picture of what prayer, and our relationship with him, should look like, if we are serious about him. He teaches us how to come closer to him, and how to hear the voice of the Father and encounter the glory of God.
We start out by seeing Jesus with his closest disciples, and friends, hiking up the mountain to pray. Now, this wasn’t just any leisurely walk. Today Mt.Tabor, historically where they are in this Gospel passage, has a switchback cut into it, much like the one you see out at the Tuya. However I wonder if they would have had a nice switchback like that back then, or just a steep trail. Regardless, you can picture how steep a climb it would have been, a pretty grueling hike.
When they got to the top of the mountain they prayed there, and Jesus was transfigured before them. Now what does that mean? They would have seen him as he would be after he had gone up to heaven, in his glorified body. The apostles were slightly surprised (to the point where Peter spoke without knowing what he was saying), and yet amazed at this opportunity wanting to prolong the experience by offering to set up three tents; for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. However this moment could not last forever. They eventually have to come down the mountain to the realities of daily life. Jesus having shared this intimate moment with them in order that they would be encouraged and strengthened for the suffering that was to come.
As I think of the relationship that these men had with eachother and the experience that they had I thought of the relationships with people I have had throughout my life. I haven’t listed every relationship, but just four main ones that I wanted to focus on.
Firstly, I have had acquaintences in my life. These are the people I have met of whom I usually remember their names, and perhaps even know a few things about them(ie. their occupation, who they are married to or related to). I may see them a few times a month(perhaps even more often in Telegraph Creek), but I don’t really share much in common with them, and don’t really talk about anything much deeper than the weather.
Then I have those people I consider my friends. These are people I would see every couple of days or talk to on the phone once every week or two. But I would choose to go a little deeper with them and share with them in their life’s happenings, in their joys, sorrows, and struggles.
I also have my family; my parents and siblings. Some of my fondest and best memories are the times I have spent working or doing activities with my father and also the times I have spent staying up past midnight sharing thoughts and receiving wisdom from my mother. My siblings and my parents I am stuck with, however I would not trade them for the world. On top of that, I owe much to them for who I am today.
Lastly, I have my relationship with my spouse, Denise. This is someone I have chosen to be committed to through the good times and the bad, forever until death. This relationship is the one I invest in the most. I see this person every day and need to consciously take moments to connect, to communicate, to repair hurts or misunderstandings. We take specific time to go deeper, to share our deepest struggles, hurts, joys, and so on, so that we can walk and journey together. And because of these reasons, and more, I share a deeper intimacy with my wife than anyone else in my life.
Now when we look back to the Gospel passage with this rough model of relationships as a guide we can see that it is easy enough for us to relegate Christ as an acquaintance in our life, only coming to him in prayer when we happen to remember. Or even as a friend, taking some time every few days to connect with him and spend a few minutes. Maybe even offering him our struggles and hoping he’ll help us out. What if our relationship with Christ was compared to that of our relationship with our father, mother, or siblings; we cherish those special moments we get to connect with him, that retreat once a year to really go deeper, or that moment when you had a moving experience and felt really close to him, or maybe even attending regular Sunday service or Mass. As in any relationship there is a natural progression, if we desire it. Even my wife started out as an acquaintance to me.
The truth is, as we see in the Gospel story today, Jesus Christ desires a spousal relationship with each of us. He desires to be that close to us, and even closer than that. We are after all his bride, the Church. But we need to press on through those hard moments and take the climb, the crosses and struggles in our lives, and come to the silence bringing these with us to be alone with Him where we can encounter His glory and that deeper intimacy (which we will encounter in all it’s fullness in heaven). And then, after being restored, come down from that mountain pondering the glory we have encountered which will transform us to be able to dwell with Christ in every moment, no matter where we are or what we are doing or who we meet, to carry in us, as it were, an eternal flame.
In this liturgy today the Church presents us with this Gospel challenge, still close to the beginning of Lent, perhaps reminding us that it is only by dedicating ourselves more than usual to prayer, to heartfelt conversion with Christ, that we will truly be transformed. But this lesson applies not only to our Lenten journey, but just as equally to our daily preparation for whatever we will face as well as our regular preparation for our participation in the Sunday liturgy.
You know, every Sunday(as Catholics) we have the amazing opportunity to receive Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, his body given for us(Matt. 26.26-27, Luke 22.19-20)! Jesus Christ comes in to us! He becomes one with us, in our very bodies! Does your relationship, your prayer, with Him reflect this intimacy? Or is he just an acquaintance that you are receiving wholly into yourself? Will you take the time to go with him to the mountain? He wants you to go there with Him. He’s inviting you, even as he comes to you today, and gives himself entirely to you! How deep are you willing to go?
* It is a relationship with Jesus Christ that makes whole all other relationships! For it is only first in truly encountering him within ourselves that we can then truly encounter him in others!
Scripture for further reflection:
Genesis 15.5-12, 17-18