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WHEN AFRAID OF THE FUTURE

Father Francis's picture
Second Week of Lent

Luke 9:28-36

Are you afraid of the future? Then let the story of the Transfiguration give you courage.

Jesus climbed Mount Tabor when His life was in danger to spend time in prayer, quietness and solitude. On reaching the top He prayed while Peter, James and John slept. He had brought them half way to Heaven, not for the view of the valley but for the view of the sky. While they slept Heaven descended on Jesus and, when the Apostles awoke, they saw Him in glory.

When we are buffeted by an uncertain future we have to know, as Jesus did, who we are, why we are here and what we are about. Jesus had to stay focused on God’s love for Him. Just as the heavenly voice confirmed that He was the beloved Son of the Father at His Baptism, so too did the same voice confirm this on the mountain of transfiguration. “This is My Son.” This awareness is the key to Jesus’ successful mission. It should also be the key to ours.

At our Baptism we were declared a child of God and during the course of our lives we need to remind ourselves of who we are. No matter how the world may wish to regard us, we should never abandon the title we received then ... the beloved sons and daughters of God. This is the only real truth about ourselves. This is not only a faith that we can hold onto in difficult circumstances; it is a faith which holds us in time of trial.

Jesus also climbed this mountain to be reminded that He was not alone, despite being surrounded by hostile forces plotting against him, some members of His family thought He was going mad, He had an uncertain public following and even the sleeping disciples. He was in touch with a heavenly community that supported Him.

With the distraction of constant noise and constant company we can feel exhausted in spirit, and most vulnerable to loneliness. This was not so with Jesus. Many times the legions of angels and saints were invisible to the eye and silent to the ear, but they ministered to Jesus nonetheless. After the temptation in the desert, in the garden of Gethsemane, now on the mount of Transfiguration, the community of Heaven enveloped Jesus and gave Him strength. This experience was intended to encourage Jesus in His preparation for death, for that day when the heavens would be silent and He would endure the day of darkness. It would be then that Jesus would draw on experiences such as these to sustain Him in His mission.

When the Apostles awoke they saw Jesus flanked by Moses and Elijah, the two great heroes of the Old Testament. Saint Luke tells us that they were speaking with Jesus about His death. This was the encouragement He needed. There would be no fiery chariot to whisk Him from death like Elijah had, nor as Moses did would He depart from this world quietly. His death would be in the darkness of Calvary, praying to a God who seemed to have abandoned Him.

We must believe that, even if we feel alone, we are not. As a child of God, our life is connected to the stream of saints who have gone before us. All those who have taken the journey with Christ through the dark tunnels of life and death are our companions.

Finally, Jesus allowed the mystery of this moment to be an inspiration to continue His mission. How easily He could have clung to this precious intimacy with the Father, rather than leave the mountain and experience His Father’s silence. Such was the rationale behind Peter’s thoughtless words, “Master, it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” Peter meant well, but it would have been better for him to remain silent. At such a solemn moment as this we, too, should be listening to what the heavenly voice directs.

Jesus did not stay on the mountain; He had been encouraged to continue the journey towards the Cross. God had given Him the light needed to face the darkness, and to find His way through it. So when we have to face a hard and fearful future let us remember that we should retreat for a time to be alone with God in prayer.

Holy Spirit, in difficult times inspire us to remember that we are God’s children, that we are not alone and that we are surrounded by the saints who will transform us to be able to meet the impending challenge.

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