Transfiguration

TRANSFIGURATION:

1. change in appearance: a dramatic change in appearance, especially one that reveals great beauty, spirituality, or magnificence.

As I shake off the dust from the past holiday celebrations, and begin looking forward to Spring, with its promise of freshness and vitality, I find myself thinking of two words: change, and beauty. There is something about that quiet time between the joyful celebrations of Christ’s birth, and His rising from the grave after three days that inspires me to want to clean the cobwebs and clutter from hearth and home and make a change in many areas of my life. When we read the Gospel appointed for today, Mark 9:2-9,  we have an excellent example of those two words: change and beauty:

2After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. 3His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. 4And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 5Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 6(He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.) 7Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” 8Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus. 9As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. Mark 9:2-9 (NIV)

Yes, this passage is ripe with visualization, but when we look beyond the glossy special effects, we also find so much meaning. What resonates with me is one word: “frightened”. Here are pious men, who walk daily with Jesus, and yet in the face of His transfiguration, their first reaction is fear. How many of you, when you meet old friends, have seen this same fear in their eyes when you tell them of how God’s love has transformed your life? Or do you see confusion, or worse apathy?

Not too long ago I was relating to a close friend about my journey of faith, and how I wanted to have a better understanding of God’s purpose for my life. During my monologue, this very masculine male broke down in tears; tears of worry, of fear, as if I had announced that I was embarking on a trek into a hostile land, and with no map to guide me. The more I tried to reassure him that I am, and will continue to be ok, the more his reaction confused me. He was afraid for me, as if my transformation was something bad, but then I realized his fear was coming from a place of uncertainty. He could not know how God’s love changed me, and his lack of knowledge about Jesus’s teachings caused him to be afraid. This was what Peter felt, as he saw the reaction of James and John, when they witnessed Jesus’s transfiguration. They didn’t know why Jesus changed, so they reacted with fear and confusion. Only after they heard God proclaim Jesus as His son, did they understand the situation.

As I continue to learn and grow in my faith, and as I share my journey with others, I find my friends and family reacting in different ways. They react with fear, and also anger, as if by changing I’m not the same person they know and love. But if I can only communicate to them that, yes I am still me, and any change they witness is only positive, never negative. Where once I was lost, wandering along a rocky road of addiction, now my steps land on the solid rock of salvation. Where there lived a person consumed by self-hate, now there is a beautiful creature, marveling at her wings of splendor, ready to take flight when the Master calls her, and ready to fly! Of course here I can speak eloquently of my transformation, my transfiguration, but how to share this with loved ones?

Then, I hear that voice, I hear God whispering in my ear, such as he did to those gentleman who were afraid, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” And I know He will provide me with the words to best communicate my thoughts to those I love, to show them how His love has truly changed me. And in that moment I really understand the beauty of change, and how those two simple words convey so much, and are the key to a happy life. As the old sayings go, “Change is inevitable” and “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. Well for me, I am glad to change, despite reactions from others, and it is only in God’s love that I have truly felt beautiful.

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