Benedictine University and MySpiritualAdvisor.com’s Mark Kurowski reflects on the the meaning of the Transfiguration and how it relates to us and our struggles.  Why is it worth it to be a Christian? Listen to this podcast of his reflection for the 2nd Sunday of Lent to find out. Please read Luke 9:28-36. For Audio, “Read More” below.  #GreatCatholicPreaching #Catholic #BenU1887

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For Benedictine University and MySpiritualAdvisor.com, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 2/24/2013The 2nd Sunday of Lent.

Please pause this audio and read Luke 9.28-36.

          How many of us have heard this, “Dad, (Insert Name of Sibling Here), hit me!?” What is the fist thing that comes into your mind when you hear, “Dad, he hit me!?” It is the first thing that came into your parents’ mind when we said the same thing about a friend of sibling: “What did you do to them?”

          Then, as though we ought to have never questioned their pristine innocence, they look at us with the biggest and saddest of eyes and say, “Nothing.” Just on cue, the playmate comes into the room with a black eye. So, it was good that you were skeptical of the story.

          When we read the Bible, sometimes it is good to have this same kind of suspicion. We read in the opening verse, of this passage, please open your Bibles to Luke 9.28, that reads, “It happened about eight days after these words.” The first question we should ask is, “After what happened?” We can see by reading on a little further that what happened was the Transfiguration of Jesus.

          The next question we ought to ask is, “eight days after what words?” What we find has a lot to do with what is going on here in the Transfiguration. Immediately before this passage is a saying of Jesus about taking up the cross of discipleship daily with which you are familiar. Before that, look at verse 22, we see the words of Jesus to the disciples telling them, “the son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and scribes, be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

          The first thing we notice then is that the reference point for the Transfiguration is that Jesus has told his disciples that he must and will suffer and die. Then he tells them that whoever would follow him needs to carry the same type of cross. We must suffer and die everyday to ourselves so that we can be raised from the dead to be who Christ wants us to be.

          What kind of prophecy is this from Christ in this story? Who wants to follow someone who is going to be handed over to die on a cross? Who wants to follow someone who only leads them into the pain of rejection by the world and the misery of being unpopular?

          That would make a great want ad, wouldn’t it?

WANTED: persons who are willing to follow a man who is condemned to die. Applicant must be willing to give up their family, identity and worldly loves. A strong desire to live life for the principle of the thing is helpful. Salary is not negotiable. Please apply in person to the local Christian church near you.

The challenges of the Chirstian life are only getting bigger it seems. Society is becoming more and more hostile toward God’s ways and we are becoming more and more unusual. Not only that, but there seems to be a current returning to the ways of maintaining our identity. “A return” means that they have fallen out of practice. If there is “a return” that means change. Change can shake our world to its foundations and make us extremely frightened.

We may wonder, “Why?” Why do I even want to live this kind of life? It seems I am constantly being handed over to those who wish to hurt me. I am constantly being faced with trials and struggles. I think I’d rather stay home from work, church and my friends.

My mother used to say to us kids, as teenagers, when we would start a job that was hard and then quit after we were just about getting into the routine of it, “You kids! You work all day laying the tracks and then jump off the trestle just before the gravy train comes by!” This is one of the lessons from the Transfiguration.

Here we have Jesus telling his disciples how rough it was going to be to follow him. He was very explicit that there would be trials and hardships, and even persecutions. Then, right after that, he takes Peter, John and James and they go up to the mountain and he is transfigured before them.

What do we associate with the bright white-ness of his face and garments? We know at the empty tomb there were two men who “stood by [the women on that first Easter morning] in dazzling apparel.” We know that this dazzling white-ness is the victory color of heaven. We know that Moses and Elijah appeared in this same dazzling white-ness. We know that Moses is the law give, a symbol of the whole of the Law of God. We know Elijah is the prophet of all prophets, who symbolizes all the Prophecies of God. It is the whole Law and all the Prophets who testify that what Jesus told them about his life, death and resurrection would come true. Then the Father in Heaven tells them “This is the chosen one, listen to him!” When the voice comes only Jesus the Messiah remains.

What can all this mean? It means that Moses and Elijah give eternal testimony that Jesus is the Messiah who will rise in dazzling white-ness after his death. He shall be King of kings and Lord of lords, but there will be no crown without the cross. There will be no transfiguration without the pain of transformation. As a symbol of hope to us as we walk through this forty days of Lent, in which we will observe the death of our Christ, the Transfiguration is a foretaste of hope for what awaits all those who suffer death on the cross of discipleship daily.

What is it with which you struggle? What is the despest, darkest valley in which you are walking right now? Do you feel that it is the valley of Death? Do you feel like it is hopeless? Well, that could have very well been the understanding of the Lord and his disciples. He faced death on the Cross, but still he stayed the course. He took the pain and the punishment because he knew there would be reconciliation at the end. He knew he would be delivered and victory would be the Father’s in Heaven.

As Christians, it would be easy for us to just throw in the towel in the face of frustration, confusion and danger. When we are faced with living the tough parts of the life of discipleship, we could ask, “Why bother?” But the answer lies in the Transfiguration. We persevere because we know that when we die to ourselves and our selfishness we will be raised to wear the shining garments of reconciliation. The Transfiguration is our foretaste of glory through times of trouble. The Transfiguration is read on this Sunday near the beginning of Lent because it reminds us, as it told the first Christians, that at the end of the time of trial, there will be victory for those who are faithful to Christ.

My friends, whatever it is that is bringing you down, making you lose hope or giving you fits, it can be brought to glory if you just believe in the power of Jesus Christ to reconcile us to God. Whatever it is that is bringing you down, making you lose hope or faith, it can be brought to glory if you just believe in the power of Jesus Christ to reconcile each of us to each other. We can make it because we are a people of hope, not hopelessness. We can make it because we are a people of victory, not a vanquished people. We can make it because we are a people who have seen his glory, though we may now see only pain. So, hold on, my friends. Work the long day laying the tracks because our gravy train will come in. The conductor will be Jesus Christ. Amen? Amen.

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