Sacred Influence

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The WORD in other words (2023) by Fr Simon Boiser SVD — Germany

2nd Sunday of Lent

Image: Wikimedia Commons, 12th Century Icon of the Transfiguration

An ancient Greek philosopher named Heraclitus famously said, “All things pass, and nothing stays. You could not step twice into the same river.” Change is an indelible part of life. We have to deal with it, whether we like it or not. It occurs in your marriage and your children when a baby is born or at the death of a loved one. Health and age, work, and income are subject to change. Maybe your dreams and plans did not work out. Change often brings fear of losing what we love, desire and value. However, God uses the changing circumstances of our lives and the world to bring us into new life.

The transfiguration story teaches us how to deal with change. Jesus wants to prepare and help the disciples live through the coming change. The transfiguration is a vision, a special revelation of Jesus’ divinity and God’s divine affirmation of everything Jesus had done and was about to do. Every year we hear this gospel during the season of Lent because this season focuses on change. 

In the midst of change in our mundane lives, many voices begin to speak in our heads. These voices chatter about what is happening and what should be done. Some voices ask questions, and others want explanations. The transfiguration story reminds us that there is only one voice to listen to: the voice of God from the bright cloud who says, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him.”

Listening to God enables inner change or a spiritual transformation. Interior change, also known as conversion of the heart and mind, does not happen automatically. It comes after experiencing divine revelation or epiphany. People, who truly “encounter” the transcendental presence of God in their lives, often become “transfigured” persons themselves with a different perspective and behavior in the world, with a different sense of mission or purpose in their lives. 

But this profound experience could not be understood immediately (and what is not understood is often difficult to explain). The mystical experience seemed too much for the disciples. That is why Jesus told the three disciples with him to keep it in their hearts as they headed back to everyday life. 

The Transfiguration story reminds us about the reality of divinity and its powerful influence. When Christ is present in our lives, we also perceive the sacredness of the world. Can you recall any similar time in your own life when you have been taken out of yourself or beyond yourself by a religious experience? 

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