Sunday, February 21; 2nd Sunday of Lent


One of the novels I read while on vacation was Niall Williams’ “History of the Rain”.  A beautifully written work and one I’d recommend.  It involves a family in County Clare and their relational lives.  In one passage, Virgil looks at his wife Mary:

Virgil felt light, felt illumined.  He’d look at Mary and his heart would float.  That was the kind of love it was, the kind that radiates, that begins in the eyes of another but soon has got into everything, and the kind that makes the world seem better…because he was feeling rescued.  (pp.219-220)

 To me, this passage sheds a creative light on the Gospel passage this 2nd Sunday in Lent as Jesus is transfigured; as he “radiates” light before Peter, John and James on the mountain.  The ‘curtain lifts’ momentarily as they witness Jesus’ true nature dazzling before them, bathed in uncreated light.  Like Virgil, I like to imagine the disciples “felt illumined” as they looked on; the kind that “makes the world seem better”.  In both instances there is the experience of loving and being loved; the sense of being rescued. 

 It is the light of such love—when both Virgil and Jesus “felt light, felt illumined’—that acts as   preparation for the darkness that looms ahead.  I believe both teach us to believe in such light and the reality of love, no matter how dark life gets.  Only such light and love have the power to rescue us.  On the mountain and within that timeless moment, Jesus stands in the gaze of divine love.  We, too, stand in that same gaze and are loved whether we realize it or not. When taken to heart and believed, it has the power to get into everything and make this world better.  I’m reminded of those words found scribbled on the wall of a Nazi concentration camp: “I believe in the sun even when it isn’t shining.”  Do we believe in this light that radiates beyond and that, mysteriously, is found within?  For the light that illumines Jesus emanates from within, yet defies description; like love.

Too easily, we fail to believe in the light and the transfiguring nature of love.  We tend to succumb to the dark edges of life and blindly turn from the light that radiates beyond and within; light perceived only   with the eyes of faith.  Too easily we focus on the disfigured nature of life and, without much hope, see nothing more.  Do we not sense something of that in the political rhetoric at this time; what the columnist David Brooks describes as the “pornography of pessimism”?

We’re in dire need of the transfigured hope we see radiating from Christ and need to believe in the love that radiates; that has got into everything because of Christ.  The kind of light and love that make this world seem better and that has the power to rescue us.  It is this love Christ reveals, whose eyes are always upon us, mercifully.  Yet, do we believe it?  Or are we more prone to the “pornography of pessimism” and the disfigured mess life has become due to the darkness of sin?

It’s significant that Jesus is at prayer when he’s transfigured.  There’s a lesson there for us:  a way out of the disfigured mess and into the light.   Simply, prayer is a turning towards God; towards the light.  Prayer is standing in the gaze of God and letting ourselves be loved in all our unloveliness.  It is then we begin to change by a love that gets into everything and making the world seem better.  It’s then we experience ourselves being rescued and loved.  It’s then we begin to wake up.

Let me end with words by the poet Mary Oliver:

                                                    Around me the trees stir in their leaves

                                                    and call out, “Stay awhile.”

                                                    The light flows from their branches.

                                                    And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,

                                                    “and you too have come

                                                    into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled

                                                    with light, and to shine. 

                                                                                                    --“When I Am Among Trees”


Father Tim Clark, Pastor

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