A few recent foggy mornings reminded me of this story about a ship captain who saw what looked like the lights of a ship heading toward him. He signaled: “Change your course 10 degrees south.” A reply came: “Change your course 10 degrees north.” The captain answered: “I’m a captain. Change course.” To which the reply was: “I am a seaman. Change course.”
The infuriated captain signaled: “Change your course. I’m on a battleship!” The reply: “Change your course. I’m in a lighthouse.”
As we journey through Lent, and life, let Jesus be our lighthouse.
Last Sunday in the Gospel, we were in the wilderness where Jesus faced down the devil. Jesus challenges us to have our priorities straight: God, service to others, generosity.
This week, we're on a mountaintop in the presence of God. The earthly Jesus is transfigured into a heavenly Jesus and a voice from heaven proclaims: “Listen to him.”
Lent is a time to affirm our faith in the good news that Jesus is alive. And because he lives, we live, especially through the sacramental signs of our world-wide faith community: water in baptism, bread and wine in the Eucharist, oil in confirmation and the anointing of the sick.
The word of God also takes us back almost 4,000 years: to Abraham, whose call is a watershed in the history of our salvation. God puts Abraham to the test: sacrifice your only son. We may wonder: what kind of God would ask such a thing? But Abraham has committed himself completely to God. And for his trust, God spares Isaac and promises Abraham countless blessings.
Paul in his letter to the Christian community in Rome invites us to be men and women of courage. God sent his only Son into our midst—the Word become flesh—and this Jesus through his death and resurrection re-established our relationship as adopted sons and daughters of God our Father. Paul urges us to persevere so God can transform us.
In the Gospel according to Mark, the disciples experienced the transfiguration of Jesus; they saw the unique and awesome presence of God in Jesus. As the scriptures describe this experience, the face of Jesus became as “dazzling as the sun,” his clothes as “white as light,” an allusion to the white cloth at baptism. The disciples saw a vision of the “glorious” Jesus, beyond the Jesus of flesh and blood in everyday life.
Yes, God's ultimate aim is to transform us into the likeness of the “glorious” Jesus. This transformation has already begun in us through baptism in which we have become “new creatures.”
And just as Jesus became a transformative person ushering in the kingdom of God, Jesus calls us to become transformative people as well.
We, as co-workers with God, have to do our best to transform hate into peace, to transform indifference into compassion, to transform unfairness and prejudice into fairness and tolerance; sorrow to joy, despair to hope. Yes, transform self-centeredness to other-centeredness, so that God can transfigure us.