The Sunday Project
Listen to Jesus…
Second Sunday of Lent |
The Lord God took Abram outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can. Just so,” he added, “shall your descendants be.” Abram put his faith in the LORD, who credited it to him as an act of righteousness.
He then said to him, “I am the LORD who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land as a possession.” “O Lord GOD,” he asked, “how am I to know that I shall possess it?” He answered him, “Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old she-goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” Abram brought him all these, split them in two, and placed each half opposite the other; but the birds he did not cut up. Birds of prey swooped down on the carcasses, but Abram stayed with them. As the sun was about to set, a trance fell upon Abram, and a deep, terrifying darkness enveloped him.
When the sun had set and it was dark, there appeared a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch, which passed between those pieces. It was on that occasion that the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the Great River, the Euphrates.”
Join with others in being imitators of me, brothers and sisters, and observe those who thus conduct themselves according to the model you have in us. For many, as I have often told you and now tell you even in tears, conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction. Their God is their stomach; their glory is in their “shame.” Their minds are occupied with earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself.
Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord.
Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray. While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem. Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep, but becoming fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” But he did not know what he was saying. While he was still speaking, a cloud came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. They fell silent and did not at that time tell anyone what they had seen.
I write this reflection in the evening on International Women’s Day—after spending an evening with people I consider my “chosen family.” The family, refugees from the DRC, have lived in the US for almost five years. Their oldest daughter looked at me and asked, “Do you ever feel like you are a different person depending on who you are with?” I assured her that was normal. She followed up with, “but I sometimes just want to be my normal self with everyone.” I smiled and listened to her continue talking about how she acts differently with certain friends or family, changing her voice, wearing traditional (or more American) clothes, etc.
This conversation is really a reflection on the Transfiguration–the moment when Jesus reveals himself to his disciples in an almost magical way. But, it also touches on the fear that so many of us have felt when we’ve touched or witnessed our own true self. Too often, for fear of what others might think or say, we fall silent, keeping the most important parts of ourselves hidden.
The key, I think, is found in the line “listen to him.” Listen to Jesus as he appears in surprising ways in each of us. Listen to him as he leads you to uncover your true self, as you navigate your way in a world that only wants to listen to Jesus in a way that doesn’t challenge the status quo. Listen to him in the cries of the war torn world…and in your joy. Listen to him as you claim your truest self.
If we really listen to Jesus, we will be witnesses to moments of divine transfiguration and transformation.