#HesGotThis is the reflection for February 15, 2015. It is a choice between Jesus healing a leper or the Transfiguration of the Lord for this Sunday, depending on the church to which you go. Find out what the meaning of the placement of the stories mean. #MSAWordfortheDay #MySpiritualAdvisor #Sermon #Homily #FourThings
For listener supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 2/15/2015 The Last Sunday before Lent.
Please pause this audio and read Mark 1:40-45 and 9:2-8.
In this recording, I am going to cover four things: First, God reveals himself to us. Second, our journey is about salvation. Third, there is no crown without the cross. Finally, fourth, we can trust God through anything.
Once again in the calendar of readings for this Sunday, we have the uncomfortable situation of the Catholic readings being about the leper who is healed by Jesus and in the Protestant readings we have the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus before he goes to his death. The Catholic Church will come back to the Transfiguration in a couple of weeks.
The placement of the passage of the Transfiguration is key to the Protestant celebration of Lent. We are taken up to see Jesus Transfigured in his glory as a foretaste of the Resurrection, just as the Scriptures are laid out. The Catholic Church follows the days following the Epiphany, called Ordinary Time, and ensures that the Transfiguration is within Lent as a celebration of a “little Easter”. This “little Easter” celebration can be a necessary emphasis once we get into the second week of our Lenten sacrifices. A short reprieve as it were.
Last year, I followed the Catholic Calendar. This year, I will follow the Protestant Calendar but start with what joins the two passages. For the Gospel of Mark, the injunction of silence by Jesus is frequent. Indeed, scholar Eduard Schweitzer made a career talking about this injunction which we call the “Messianic Secret.” Additionally, we have the phenomenon of no one listening to Jesus’ instructions, something that we all can say that we are guilty of doing.
In terms of the story of the Leper, the story heard by Catholics on this particular Sunday, the Leper’s joy at being healed by Jesus leads him to tell everyone, even though told not to do so. This causes all kinds of problems for Jesus’ ministry. The ministry must go underground in response to his popularity. God’s timing would have been better for the ministry of Christ, but the frustration of his ministry is testimony that Jesus Christ experienced all things that we do, including frustration.
For those who get to hear the Transfiguration, we have a story that reminds us of something of what it means to be a Christian in this world: We know the end of the story and that leaves us conflicted. We are joyful that we know that the end is going to be great! We are sometimes wondering what God is up to as we come down from the mountain and head to the Cross and our own “identity death.” The sacrifice is worth it. The Catholic lesson simply reminds us after we have started our Lenten sacrifice while the Protestants tell us that before we start. The sacrifice is worth it.
There are a few observations that one can make about the passage of the Transfiguration. First, God reveals himself to us. Second, our journey is about salvation. Third, there is no crown without the cross. Finally, fourth, we can trust God through anything.
A student of mine came to me in crisis, “My life is a shambles. I knew I shouldn’t have gone out with her. It just left me in trouble. Where is God in all of this?” he said. I asked, “What were the signs that you saw which told you not to pursue it in the first place?” “It is what I felt in my gut when I went to pray after the first time I met her,” he replied. I asked, “So, where was God in all of this?”
We expect the Lord to present himself to us in these flashy scenes like the Transfiguration. Yet, when we look at Peter, James and John’s response, the question is begged, “Does it really matter how big of a sign God gives us?” We often neglect God’s simplest answer to our prayers: our deepest desires that align with what God would want. Or, there is this nagging sense that “something is not right.” I remember a friend being offered the job she thought she wanted, complete with the paycheck to match, only to have the gut feeling she had about her boss at the beginning lead her to the psychiatrist at the end. The Lord was warning her. God is constantly revealing himself to us, the question is, are we paying attention to what God wants us to hear, see, feel, smell, taste, perceive, hunch and desire?
Secondly, this whole project of Christianity is about getting to heaven. For some in the world, all they will ever have in life is the hope of heaven. For the rest of us, we have been showered with the luxury of riches. My daughter and I love to watch the rehab shows. There is this one, “Love it or List it”. Every week the show has a new couple with the same problem: they have outgrown their three bedrooms, one bath, two car garage pad and need a 3,300 square foot home. Really? There are people in the Philippines who are still living in cardboard boxes. I wonder if they would like to move?
The situation in life is not going to be the best or even what we want sometimes or maybe ever. Yet, if we are citizens of heaven instead of people of our existence, then we know that the Transfiguration is a foretaste of what is to come AFTER Jesus is born our birth, walks our walk, talks our talk, lives our life and DIES OUR DEATH. He must redeem us so that we can go to heaven in our hearts now and reunited with our bodies at the Second Coming.
Our focus should be on not only living the life of salvation, but also inviting others to join us. One of the things about Catholic and Christian radio that drives me crazy is that we Christians complain a lot about how the world is going to hell in a handbasket, but when was the last time you invited someone to come to Church with you? There are all kinds of people out there complaining about how awful religion is, but when was the last time you stepped up and talked about your positive relationship with Jesus Christ and your church?
This project is about getting to heaven and getting others to heaven. It is not about erecting monuments to God so that we can revisit that perfect spot or so that future generations can see them, a la Peter, James and John.
Third, there is no crown without the cross. This is a protestant saying, but it is so very Catholic! Catholics believe in suffering. Sometimes it seems that they like suffering maybe a little too much. Catholics embrace the idea that our suffering is added to Christ’s on the Cross by nature of our unity with Christ through Baptism. Protestants know that this life is a life that is not of God. They know that there is evil in the world and that it will try to thwart goodness. So, if you try to be good, righteous, and holy, you are supposed to encounter a bunch of evil and hardship. They know because the Bible told them so. The invitation is not for a pain free life. The invitation of God is to join him in the amazing project of saving the world. Think about it, it is a compliment.
Finally, the Transfiguration tells us that we can trust God through anything. The glowing of Jesus that exceeds the shekinah glory of Moses when his face shone, the exalting of Jesus above the great law giver Moses and the greatest prophet Elijah, and the gift of Jesus sharing his glory with us, are very important to remind us what will happen after the horrible events of the Crucifixion. The Transfiguration is God’s biggest “Hey, I got this” of the Bible. If he is there for Jesus, he is there for you. No matter how your life goes or ends, God is with you. God loves you. God wants you to join him in his big campaign to save the world. When you wake up in the morning, just think of the Lord looking at your calendar, smiling at you and saying, “Hey, I got this.”
The Transfiguration teaches a lot of things, but here are four to take with you: First, God reveals himself to us. So, be open for him in any way he comes to you. Second, our journey is about salvation. Think of salvation and invite someone to church. Third, there is no crown without the cross. Put your struggles in perspective, you are living for the second life. Finally, fourth, we can trust God through anything. Trust that God is taking care of you. Amen.
MySpiritualAdvisor is a listener supported ministry. It costs around $350 in time and effort to make one reflection. Please consider making a donation so that we can continue to provide these reflections. Look for the donate button on the right side of the home page.
This audio is under the copyright of MySpiritualAdvisor.com and may not be used, reduplicated, or distributed for commercial use without the express written consent of MySpiritualAdvisor.com, LLC. MySpiritualAdvisor.com, 2015.