Saturday, February 16, 2008

This Preview Approved for All Audiences

(2nd Sunday of Lent, A)

Anybody here ever go to the movies? Good. Now when you go to the movies, first you have to watch the previews, right? And in a preview, they show you a couple of minutes of a film not yet released. What usually happens is that they show you pieces of different scenes, all mixed up and cut together in a way that makes the movie look better than it actually is. The purpose of this is to make you want to see the movie, and to say yourself, after seeing the preview, ‘wow, that looks good, I want to see that.’ The preview is there to try to make you commit to going to see the whole movie.

Now I suggest to you today that in this Gospel we just heard, Jesus is providing his disciples with a sort of preview of the Resurrection. He takes Peter, James, and John, the three of his apostles who will be most responsible for preaching the Gospel and leading the churches after his Ascension, and he shows them a preview of the glory of his Resurrection. His face “shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light,” Matthew tells us. Even more miraculously, for a moment Jesus enters into eternity itself, and is thus able to commune with Moses and Elijah.

This Transfiguration of the Lord is like a preview of the glory of the Resurrection. Just as a movie preview is designed to encourage to see the whole movie, the Lord gives his apostles the Transfiguration as a way to encourage them through all the terror and trouble that is on the way: Jesus’ arrest, his trial, and finally his execution on the Cross—the great events we will recall more fully in Holy Week.

Brothers and sisters, as the Lord’s Transfiguration provided encouragement to his first disciples, so this Eucharist is meant to do for us. We are pilgrims in this world, people who are journeying on their way to fullness of the Kingdom of God. Often it’s not an easy road. There are many obstacles and many opportunities for discouragement in this life. Life has its misfortunes. We make ourselves miserable with our own sins and suffer because of the sins of others. Many times in life things go wrong or just don’t work out. The final mysteries of sickness and death hang over us, taking those we love.

That’s why we gather here each week for this Eucharist, so we too can be encouraged on our pilgrim way through life. Everything about what we are doing here right now is meant to be a preview and a foretaste of our destination—our personal destination in the God we will all return to at our own death as well as the final destination of all creation in the fullness of the Kingdom of God.

That we gather here in this beautiful church is not just so we can enjoy something beautiful—it’s meant to encourage us in the knowledge that we are on the way to a beautiful destiny in God. The Wisdom of the Word of God we hear at Mass is meant to encourage us to believe in the peaceful Kingdom to which we are traveling. That we sing together in harmony reminds us of the peace and harmony and unity God so desires to give to the world. Most of all, the Body and Blood of the Lord that we receive as our spiritual food helps us to know and believe that God will fulfill every desire and hope, every longing of our hearts. Everything we do here at Mass is meant to be a weekly encouragement and preview of “the life of the world to come” we proclaim at the end of the Creed. And we always need encouragement when we are on a long and sometimes difficult journey.

Our God is an inviting God. Just as God invited Abraham to leave home and journey to a land that God would show him, God invites us to commit ourselves to the journey of faith that has its destination in God himself, in his Kingdom. Abraham didn’t know exactly where he was going, but he went because he trusted God. So it has to be with us and the invitation we receive to the journey of faith. And just as Jesus invited Peter, James, and John up the mountain to be transfigured before them and give them the encouragement of a preview of the Resurrection, so the Risen Lord invites all of us to climb the mountain of faith each week to be fed and encouraged by this Eucharist.

1 comment:

ben in denver said...

Think back a few months in refence to the transfiguration (coupled with the fact than my lenten reading has focused this year on the apocalypse) raises a few questions in my mind:

1) Thinking back to Advent. Would you say that the Transfiguration is just as much a preview the Final Comings as it is to the Resurrection?

2) Thinking back to the Feast of the Transfiguration on August 6. Would it be fruitful to understand the atomic blast on Hiroshima as a complete perversion of the Transfiguration, an antichristic event on the same day that points to the true nature of the enemy?

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on these questions