Genesis 15: 5-12, 17-1/8
Philippians 3: 17-4.1
I am sure there are many here among us who could tell a story of an event that occurred to them that changed their lives forever. We see two instances of this in today’s readings. We first hear of Abram, a man who hears a voice calling to him to leave his homeland, a place were he felt safe and secure, with everything he owned, with everyone he held dear; and journey to some unknown land. Once he arrives in the land, the Lord again speaks to him, promises that from Abram, a great nation will spring forth, that the land Abram is standing on will be his. Now Abram is a practical man, he wonders how he will be able to hold such a vast land; how he, who is past his prime, will father a nation? God confirms this promise by performing a miracle! This is the first miracle Abram witnesses in his relationship with the Lord! Can any of us even guess at the emotions that he experienced from this event? The promise is confirmed, and Abram’s life is forever changed, he is no longer just a nomad, wandering the plains and hills of Palestine, he is now the father of a people.
In today’s Gospel, we see the disciples of Jesus, Peter, John and James, following him up a mountain to pray. They have been following Jesus for sometime now. They have heard him preach and were inspired by his words. They have witnessed him performing many miracles; and they are in awe of him. Earlier in this Gospel, we would have read how Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah, the Christ! Now, they may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, but do they really understand what that means? On the top of that mountain, Peter, John and James witness the transfiguration of Jesus. They see him in all his glory, and they hear the voice of the Father confirm that Jesus is the Son of God. The words the Evangelist Luke uses, I think, fail to adequately describe what those three disciples saw and experienced. The three persons who came down from that mountain were men whose lives had been changed forever.
I think the common factor that Abram and the three disciples shared, was that they were already persons with open hearts. They may not have realized it at the moment, but they were ready for God to come in and do something wonderful, that would change them forever. During this season of Lent, the Church is encouraging us to open our hearts; hearts that may have grown hard over time. Through fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, we break our attachment to those things that may have become a barrier between us, God and other persons. We have an opportunity to break ourselves open, and become totally receptive to the love and power of God. We can hear, with open ears, the Word of God; we can see, with eyes of faith, the miracle of the Eucharist happening before us. And when we receive Christ in Holy Communion, we open ourselves up to the power of His love. And with each of these encounters, Jesus will, as St. Paul wrote, “change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body.” We have the opportunity to enter into a new way of life. Now this can be somewhat frightening, scary. We may be comfortable with the way our life may be, right now. We may be tempted to stay in the place we are, to remain at the base of the mountain. However, God is offering us so much more. Now it comes with challenges, but it also comes with so much joy. We only need to have the courage to set out on the journey, to have the courage to climb.