Part of the honest look at our lives that Lent is meant to be is just the simple realisation that some of the time those lives are not particularly easy. Our lives can, from time to time, seem to be full of more than our share of frustrations, discouragement, even defeat.
Our observance of Lent will be a spiritually powerful force in our lives if we learn from it, even just a little bit, that in spite of hardships life goes on and usually goes on fairly well, fairly comfortably. That no matter what kind of turn our lives may take, good or bad, it can be said with absolute certainty that they will turn again. The content and quality of our lives, spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, even physically, are constantly subject to change.
That fact can be either bewildering or very consoling. The thing that makes the difference is the intensity with which we embrace a very Christian virtue, the virtue of hope.
The virtue of hope takes the conviction of faith and makes it very personal. Not only has God, long ago, promised happiness and fulfilment to humankind, but he is promising it to me, right here and now, promising that my life, the life of each of us, is being individually moulded by God into something perfect, something beautiful, something infinitely satisfying to me.
People of hope recognise the transforming power of God in their lives, but they also realise that it is up to them to clear the way for that transformation. It would be foolish of us to hope that God will make something perfect and beautiful of our lives if we hold firm to an attachment to imperfection and ugliness.
To realise this, demands something of an ability to get beneath the surface of life, to recognise that what we experience in our lives is far from all that is really happening. Today’s Gospel is an account of the first time that Peter and James and John realised this, most powerfully. It is the story of the Transfiguration of Christ. It was a moment in which they were given a chance to see beneath the surface of the life of Christ, and thus of their own. They were given the chance to see that beneath what appeared to them to be the probably futile efforts of a very minor wandering preacher, who was in trouble with the law and who would soon be arrested and probably executed, beneath all of that there was the presence of God himself, drawing his people together, teaching and renewing them.
The Transfiguration teaches that beneath the surface of life lived out in the presence of Christ much, much more is happening than can be seen and felt and heard. In the light of the Transfiguration, we see that nothing less than the re-creation of paradise. Fr Andrew