2 Lent: March 4 / 5, 2023
So I hope you did your homework. I hope you read the readings for today – especially the Gospel – and have found your one word description for this week. Now let’s see if we agree on the choice. . .
At this point of our reading from St. Matthew's Gospel today -- chapter 17 (??) Jesus and his disciples have been through a lot together.
1st of all, Jesus has called each of them by name to come and follow after him. They listened – and responded to the call.
And Jesus has told them several times about the demands of being a disciple -- usually tough stuff - like even loving your enemies!
And Jesus has tried to teach them how to pray, how to put others first, and how they must keep God at the center of their lives.
And the disciples have seen Jesus cure lots of people, calm a storm, and confront the Scribes and Pharisees in their hypocrisy.
And Jesus has even given the disciples a trial run to go out on their own -- to proclaim the kingdom of God -- and they did all right, coming back to him with great success stories.
But even though Jesus and the disciples have already been through a lot together -- it pales in comparison to what is to come.
For after this transfiguration moment – Jesus sets his eyes on Jerusalem – and it is one fast journey to the cross.
IF Jesus can stay focused on what he needs to do, and hopefully get the disciples to stay focused on what they need to do -- they will be able to get through inconveniences, set-backs, road blocks, pain & suffering -- on the road to eternal life.
So in order to stay focused -- Jesus chooses NOT to spend time alone -- as he did last week in the desert --but he chooses to take his three closest disciples: Peter, James, and John -- up the mountain with him.
And there they encounter, actually converse with, the Gospel tells us -- with Moses and Elijah --meaning they spend time interacting with the law and the prophets -- that is, the Jewish Scriptures.
So Jesus knows what awaits him -- suffering and death. He knows it’s not going to be easy. And so this time on the mountain is an intense period of preparing for things to come -- and hopefully a time to dispel the worries and fears of Peter, James, and John --and further prepare them for what they will have to face.
We know this was time well spent for Jesus -- for as the Eucharistic prayer will say today: "he did disdain, that is reject,
to be nailed for our sake to the wood of the cross."
And it must have worked somewhat for Peter, James, and John --for right before going up the mountain, Jesus tells the disciples what was coming down the pike -- his suffering and death -- and all of them protested, especially Peter, who said: "God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you."
But shortly after this mountaintop experience -- Jesus tells them a second time what is coming, and although this time they were "overwhelmed with grief" -- there were no cries of protest, no out-right denials of the possibilities --
so the disciples are at least beginning to wrap their minds and hearts around the future -- although all but John will scatter and hide when the time of crucifixion comes.
So that brings me to my word for the week -- which may not necessarily be your word. My word is SUPPORT.
Jesus went to the mountaintop with Peter, James, and John – to soak up their SUPPORT --and the support of the Jewish Scriptures -- the law and the prophets, and ultimately the support of God ----- so that he would not disdain the wood of the cross.
The desert is a place for quiet -- a place for listening. . . But the mountaintop, accompanied by your closest friends -- is a place for SUPPORT.
And here is the picture --
And -- this is what I leave you to reflect on:
Who do we soak up support from -- especially when we have something difficult to face?
Do we spend any time with the law and the prophets -- that is the scriptures -- before we make a major decision --or even a minor one -- in our lives?
Who walks with us on our journey of life?
Who do we hang out with -- people who lift us up - or people who drag us down?
Who holds our hand, gives us comfort or encouragement - helps us to choose the right path – and helps steer us in the right direction?
As one author said: find a group of people who challenge and inspire you and support you. Spend as much time as you can with them – and it will change your life.
So ponder these things – and then be sure to spend some time with Moses and Elijah – that is the Scriptures for next Sunday – and find your word.
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