Pastoral Reflections

2nd Sunday in Lent – 2017

How many here today have had the experience of talking negatively at or about themselves when struggling with something or when distressed over something? When this happens, there is a tendency to say a lot of things, which reflect how we may feel at the moment, but which may not necessarily be valid. What follows is not necessarily an exhaustive list of possible negative self-commentary, but for every negative thing that we may utter about ourselves, we can find a Scriptural alternative point of view.

For example, sometimes we may feel challenged beyond our capacity and so we say, “It’s just impossible.” But Jesus says in Luke 18:27, “Things that are impossible for men are possible for God.” Sometimes we may say, “I’m just too tired to take care of this.” But Jesus says in Matt 11:28 “Come to me all you who labor and are overburdened and I will give you rest.” Sometimes we may conclude that, “Nobody really loves us.” But in John 3:16 we read that God so loved the world that he gave his only Son. Sometimes we may say, “I just can’t go on.” But Jesus told Paul, “My grace is enough for you: for (my) power is at full stretch in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9) Sometimes we conclude, “I guess I must be stupid, as I can’t figure this out.” But in Proverbs 20:24 we read that God guides all human steps and if we work with him, we will figure things out. Sometimes we may throw our hands up in the air and say, “I just can’t make this happen.” But Paul wrote in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.” Sometimes we may simply conclude, “I’m not able.” But Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 9:8, “There is no limit to the blessings which God can send you – he will make sure that you will always have all you need for yourselves in every possible circumstance, and still have something to spare for all sorts of good works.” Sometimes we may say, “I can’t forgive myself.” But Paul wrote in Rom 8:1, “Those who are in Christ Jesus are not condemned, the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Sometimes we may conclude, “I can’t manage.” But Paul wrote in Philippians 4:19, “God will fulfill all your needs in Christ Jesus as lavishly as only God can. Sometimes we may say, “I’m afraid.” But in 2 Tim 1:7 we read, “God’s gift was not a spirit of timidity, but the Spirit of power and love and self-control.” Sometimes we may say, “I’m always worried and frustrated.” But Peter wrote in 1 Pet 5:7, “Unload all your worries onto God since he is looking after you.” Sometimes we may say, “I’m not smart enough.” But Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:30 “God has made you members of Christ Jesus and he is our wisdom.” Sometimes we may say, “I feel all alone.” But in Hebrews 13:5 God says, “I will never fail or desert you.”

The transfiguration of Jesus in our Gospel was not just about Jesus. I would like to see it as a vision of the glorious future to which we are all called. But going through life, we encounter problems and negativities and we get hurt. At such points we have the choice either to say and do negative things, or we can choose to remember who we really are - brothers and sisters of Jesus, sons and daughters of God since baptism - and that the glory of the transfigured Jesus awaits each of us.

We can choose to think in negative ways or to remember the encouragement we receive in Sacred Scripture. In his first letter John writes, “we are already children of God but what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed; all we know is that when it is revealed we shall be like him because we shall see him as he really is.” (1 John 3:2) “…we shall be like him…” So the glory of the transfigured Jesus is awaiting each of us, thanks to our baptism. So then, for one who believes, there is no room for negative thinking. We may be tempted to think negatively because of events that occur to us, but let us not forget our true dignity, no matter what happens or no matter what others think of us or say to us.

The second reading today also gives us an insight into what God has destined for us. We hear, “This grace had already been granted to us, in Christ Jesus, before the beginning of time, but it has only been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim 1:9-10) God’s grace has been granted to us before the beginning of time. Imagine, since the beginning of time God had you in his plan and had his grace planned for you. Since the beginning of time God planned to transform you through his Son Jesus.

The disciples who experienced Jesus’ transfiguration had to come down the mountain and return to normality but they remembered the transfiguration. Like them we live in normality but we believe and know that God has destined great things for us. We say that the transfiguration prepared the disciples for the scandal of the cross. Celebrating Jesus’ Transfiguration early in Lent reminds us of what comes after the cross, because it reminds us of the glory of Jesus risen from the dead. In our worst moments of pain, we ought not to think negatively but rather remember the encouragement we receive in Sacred Scripture and that God has destined the glory of the transfiguration for each of us in the next life.

Let us take this encouragement and be thankful for it! As we continue with our Lenten journey, and apply the trinity of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, let us be mindful of our ultimate goal – to experience an authentic transfiguration of mind, body, and soul!

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