Today’s Gospel reading recounts the Transfiguration, which biblical scholars say is probably a post-Easter incident, when Jesus reveals his full divine glory to Peter, James and John. Why do we hear a story about this event during Lent? If you think about it, Lent, as well as Christian life, is about transfiguration- allowing God’s grace to transform us more into the likeness of Christ. This is another part of our lifelong journey- again something to reflect upon during our Lenten journey- which we can accept or ignore.
One of the principal barriers to our transfiguration is fear; we are afraid of loss. What will happen to us if we give up our old habits (which maybe are self-destructive or narcissistic or do damage to other people)? What will I become if I give up my present ‘self’ to be molded ever more fully into a person of the Beatitudes? Fear is real and, we daily swim in fear. Television and newspapers constantly bombard with fear about some real possibilities but mostly about imagined threats which are highly unlikely. As a famous American sociologist says we have in the United States a ‘culture of fear’ (Dr. Barry Glassner’s book Culture of Fear is worth reviewing or a YouTube clip on his insights, accessed February 5, 2017). However, fear paralyzes us so that instead of relying on the Holy Spirit and others we isolate ourselves for God and other people.
Jesus’ answer, not only in today’s Gospel, but throughout the Gospels is ‘FEAR NOT’. A message which we need to take to heart and realize; God is with us if we ask for help and guidance. Let us take some time and ask God to make us courageous to witness love and His Gospel.
There are many forms of courage. Mission Doctors’ Association (MDA) sends doctors to foreign lands to serve the world’s poor. Traveling to another land can be scary, living in a foreign country is anxiety provoking, and learning how to work in another culture and language can be nerve wracking. But MDA helps doctors with these real issues allowing both doctors and those who receive them to not be afraid. Perhaps it might be time for us to pray for brave mission doctors who face real fears in God’s name and also to send a few dollars to assist their work?