Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Until Day Dawns

By Colleen O’Sullivan

We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty…  Moreover, we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable.  You will do well to be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.  (2 Peter 1:16, 19)

Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother, John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.  And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light…  (B)ehold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”  (Matthew 17:1-2, 5)

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.  (Isaiah 9:1a)

This past Sunday, in my pastor’s homily on Jesus’ love for us, there was a refrain that echoed throughout:  “The crowd changes.  The message never does.”  That came back to me as I was reflecting on today’s Scripture readings, because this isn’t the first time we’ve heard these words from heaven.  Back in Ch. 3 of his Gospel, Matthew tells us that at Jesus’ baptism, the heavens opened and God declared Jesus his beloved Son, adding that he was well pleased with him.  Jesus was the primary audience on that occasion.  It was a sign he must have longed for, an acknowledgement from his heavenly Father that he was following God’s will and that the public ministry about to unfold was what God desired of him.

Today we see Jesus leading Peter, James and John to the mountaintop where he is transfigured before their very eyes.  They have now become the target audience for God’s words about how pleased he is with his beloved Son.  God doesn’t stop there, however.  He goes on to tell the disciples to listen to Jesus.  And how do the disciples react to this glimpse of Jesus in all his glory and these words of affirmation and advice from God?  They fall to the ground, overwhelmed, trembling with fear. Jesus picks them up, sets them on their feet, and they follow him down the mountain and on to their next stop.  This seems to be the paradigm for Peter’s life, in particular.  He often fails to understand what Jesus is showing or telling them.  He falls down on the job.  And over and over, Jesus forgives him, picks him up, dusts him off, and sets him on course again.

We have an advantage over the disciples at this point in the Gospel.  We are post-Resurrection followers.  We know that Jesus is raised to glory on Easter by his Father.  We are familiar with all the Resurrection appearances.  Yet, if we are honest, how different are our lives in the end from those of the disciples?  We, too, often fail to grasp what Jesus is saying to us or what God is trying to show us.  We, too, fall down, overwhelmed by our sins, our anger, our anxieties or our sorrows.  And, fortunately, the Lord still comes along, forgiving us, calming us, or comforting us.  He does what he’s always done out of love for us, gives us a new beginning.     

I love how the writer of 2 Peter puts it:  Ever keep before you that vision of the glorified Christ, because it is “a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” 

Where do you see Christ as a lamp shining in a dark place in your life?

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