2nd Sunday of Lent (B)
Reflections by Fr. Gerry Pierse, C.Ss.R.
desert fathers have a story about a young monk who asked an older one,
"How come that so many people set out to be good, and so many people
come here to join the monastery, but after some time they leave again
or give up the effort?" The old monk thought for a while and then
answered. "Sometimes as you stand here in front of the monastery
you will see a rabbit pass by pursued by the village dogs, barking and
howling. After some time the rabbit comes back but there are only one
or two dogs in pursuit. These are the dogs who actually saw the rabbit
- the others were only following the barking. Likewise, if we are to persevere
in our pursuit we must have had a glimpse of the rabbit - the Lord - and
not just be following the barking." The Transfiguration is one of
those moments of seeing the rabbit for Jesus, for the disciples and for
Luke tells the story of the life of Jesus as a journey towards Jerusalem
where he was to be rejected, crucified, to die and rise again. The story
of the transfiguration on Mount Tabor comes at a time when the tables
have turned on Jesus. His popularity with the masses is waning and the
opposition of the authorities is growing. The Human Jesus is full of
fear and apprehension and the transfiguration is a time of needed reassurance.
Elijah, the prophet, and Moses, the liberator, appear to him and from
the cloud came this word, "This is my Son, the beloved; listen
to him." In this story the writer is telling us of some kind of
mystical deep experience of the Father that Jesus had at this time to
sustain and encourage him as he continued on his fearful mission.
disciples also need a glimpse of God to sustain them. They were going
to be disappointed in Jesus as he would be in them. We must never forget
that the disciples had a very limited understanding of what Jesus was
about. They had some idea of the Messiah but the only way in which they
could imagine his role was that he should drive out the Romans and deliver
the people from political oppression. However, Jesus' kingdom was not
of this world and instead of being lifted up on a throne as a king,
becoming a political leader, he was lifted up on a cross to die as a
criminal. While all of this was happening the disciples proved themselves
to be disloyal and cowardly. So they needed a memory, a glimpse of glory,
which they got in the Transfiguration, to sustain them when their hopes
about Jesus were shattered and they had to face their own failure.
got a glimpse of God, a glimpse of glory, at the transfiguration and
that was to sustain them through the disgrace of Jesus and through their
own failure. Sometimes early on in prayer the Lord can give us a glimpse
of himself - a moment of closeness, a feeling of certainty about his
presence, a call to commitment to the work of prayer and of greater
openness in our relationship with him. Then that becomes a memory which
will later sustain us in the bustle of everyday life and in the dryness
of distracted prayer periods.
big temptation is that of Peter to want to build a tent, a monument
- to freeze the moment of presence. The poet William Blake said, "He
who binds himself to a joy, does the winged life destroy, but he who
kisses the joy as it flies, lives in eternity's sunrise."
had an experience of God in the burning bush which had to sustain him
for the 40 frustrating years in the desert. We tend to want to stay
for ever around the bush and never venture out into the true experience
of God in the desert.
The genuine presence of God is like something glimpsed in a rear view mirror. It has gone when you notice it. And that is as God wants it to be. We do not seek his consolation but only to be for him. This is what we do each time we meditate. But if we have had some transfiguration experience, some glimpse of the rabbit, it will do much to give us courage on our weary, yet, joy-full journey.
Taken from Sundays into Silence - A Pathway to Life. Copyright © 1998 by Claretian Publications
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The best word I can find to describe this book is integration. In these reflections on the gospel readings for year A, B, and C of the liturgical cycle, Fr. Pierse integrates the richness of the word of God with experiences and stories from life in the community. He shows how through silence, the word can bear fruit in service and sacrament. (R. J. Cardinal Vidal)
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