The webpage of the Youth Ministry of the Irish Province of Augustinians

Second Sunday of Lent, Year A - 16th March 2014

In 2005 Desmond Tutu, the famous Anglican archbishop from South Africa, published a book called “God Has a Dream”. This book was about the transformation of South Africa from being a state founded on inequality and discrimination to being a country in which all could belong and be valued. Throughout this book Tutu speaks of transfiguration. He speaks of it as being the power of God active in our world which transforms us from being what we are, into being what we can be; from being what we are into being what God has always intended us to be.
When I read his book I was very struck by something. I have always tended to think of the transfiguration of Jesus as something that happened a long time ago, on a mountain far away. Tutu helped me to realise that the transfiguration that began on that mountain continues to happen every time human beings listen to the word of God and put it in to practice.
When we overturn injustice; when we restore peace; when we establish reconciliation; when we replace hatred with love we are not just changing things, we are transfiguring the way we live. These are not just cosmetic changes. These are the changes that allow what can be to shine forth. No matter what our difficulties may be, once we have been exposed to the transfiguration brought about by God’s word we are never going to be the same again.
If you have experienced injustice, then the experience of justice will always leave you hungering for more. When peace replaces violence and discord we never want to let go of what we have now tasted. Once we have established reconciliation we don’t want to turn back to enmity. And when we experience being loved we are always going to choose it over hatred.
When Peter, James, and John experienced the transfiguration of Jesus they threw themselves on to the ground. They were afraid. This was not something that they were used to. They didn’t feel that they belonged here. Jesus reaches out to them; he touches them and tells them to stand up. To stand up is the attitude of someone who belongs in that place. To stand up is to participate in what is going on. The disciples are told by Jesus to stand up because this is their transfiguration too. They are being shown what they too can be when they allow God to work through them. When they look up, they see only Jesus. When they look up they see the one on whom they are to model themselves if they want this transfiguration to be a lasting reality in their lives.
We all know that we are sent by Jesus to be a light for the world. There are all sorts of lights. Some of them provide a faint glow while others shine brightly like beacons. We are being sent so that our faces shine like the sun; so that even our clothes become as white as the light. In other words, we are charged with being light in such a way that no matter what happens we can never have that light quenched. Even our clothes – in other words, even the most unimportant aspects of our lives – are to shine with the light that is the love we have received from God. This light will only shine if, just like the apostles, we lift up our lives and see Jesus. We need to keep our gaze fixed on him if we are going to be that light in our world. The light we can generate on our own will only ever be dim by comparison.
This is the same message we find in today’s first reading. Abraham is called from the land of Ur and is sent by God. Abraham is only asked to do one thing – to leave the land of his birth. Everything else will be done by God. “I will make you a great nation...” “I will bless you and make your name famous...” “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you...” Abraham can never achieve these things by his own efforts. It is only by allowing God to work through him that he becomes transfigured into being the Patriarch of God’s chosen people.
This same invitation is being made to us today. We are being invited to open ourselves to God’s loving action – we are being promised that, to the extent that we are able to do this we will be transfigured; and the more that we can allow this to happen the more brightly our light will shine.
I think today’s readings are about letting God in to our lives. They are a reminder to us that with God working through us we can become so much more than we ever could on our own.


Article posted on 15th of March 2014

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