Last week the Gospel at Sunday Mass had us deep in the Judean wilderness – Jesus driven there by the Spirit and he was there long enough to be ready for his Transfiguration – and he was not alone – he was with the wild beasts and the angels looked after him.
This week we have Jesus transfigured – quite a contrast – first a wilderness – hungry, unwashed, strained – next ….clothes dazzling white, transfigured. It seems we need to spend time in the wilderness before we can be transfigured. Strip away the excesses we carry – the addictions that cramp us – that stop us living life to the full.
Sometimes we are not good at the maths – we add or multiply when we are meant to subtract – lent is a time for subtraction……we are unlikely to be transfigured by addition or multiplication of stuff – that new gleaming car, that lovely suit….that new smart phone, more make up. That seems clear – but it goes against everything our culture tells us – it tells us – you need ‘more’ to be transfigured, to make it – more of this and more of that….possessions, stuff …slaves in Egypt or Dundrum shopping centre..or where ever your Egypt is….slaves to technology….
Instead of being transfigured, we can easily become a resource…and a resource not for other people but for the Social Media giants – reduced to walking information processors and entertainment consumers….and beginning to feel ….that if I am not ‘on’ I am not …..And this can happen to monks too. In Chapter 55 of the Rule, Saint Benedict advises the Abbot to check the monks beds frequently to see if they have any private property hidden away under their mattress – and if anyone is found to have something that he did not receive from the Abbot, he is to undergo the most severe discipline.”
Why? he is not being mean but he is saying we are missing the point. Stuff doesn’t do it. Even the two accompanying Jesus up the mountain don’t get it – they want to put up tents on the mountain – set up a stall on the spot where Jesus reveals that he is God – you could imagine them up there the following week with their Mount Tabor souvenirs.
So during lent we are encouraged to head for the wilderness – maybe even a wi-fi wilderness – getting rid of…. or at least turning off, something that has enslaved us, that is holding us back – getting back to who you were before you took on all those unnecessary extras. Being transfigured …slowly..
A challenge – but then lent is a challenge. But we are not on our own – God is on our side so it doesn’t matter who is against us… and I am not sure about the wild beasts but I am sure about the angels – they will be there to look after you and me. And they come in all sorts of disguises – as parent, sibling, friend, teacher, spouse,….good people dotted around the landscape of my life …mostly we may miss them but they are there to help me become…… just a little bit more transfigured this year.