Opening the Word: Luminosity of love

By:

Spiritual theologians often have cautioned Christians about relying on visions. St. John of the Cross warned his readers that rather than expect a euphoric encounter with Christ, the one who adores God should ask for nothing more than the emptiness of the cross. For it is there, often in radical absence, that we meet the risen Lord.

How do we square this caution with the Gospel of the Transfiguration, read each year on the Second Sunday of Lent? Jesus appears, transfigured in glory, on Mount Tabor. For a moment, the disciples see Jesus for who he is: the splendor of the Father, the Word made flesh. He stands between Moses and Elijah, both who beheld at least a glimpse of God’s glory. And now Peter, John and James are invited to see this glory.

But they’re asleep. There, with God’s glory become manifest, the first apostles slept. Deeply. Who knows how long they slept before, at last, they rose from their slumber?

They rise just in time to hear the voice of the Father, to discover that Jesus is the chosen and beloved one of God. And in this revelation, the glory disappears. Jesus is alone. And the apostolic threesome remain silent before what they perceived.

The reading from Genesis provides a lens for interpreting the experience of the apostles. Abram also encounters divine glory as he receives the great promise of many descendants. In a scene taken from a dream, Abram offers a sacrifice, then walks in terrifying darkness through the bloody animals.

In the midst of this darkness, God speaks. He promises the gift of land, the gift of a relationship that would transcend Abram’s death. God promises the gift of presence, a “thereness” that can be relied on even when God seems absent. God appears in the darkness, in the bloody sacrifice of beasts.

The apostles are given a vision of Jesus in the Transfiguration not because he seeks to offer them a moment of respite from the darkness that often accompanies human life. After all, as soon as the vision of glory fades away, they must wonder if they ever saw such glory in the first place. Was this scene not just the part of a dream? They were sleeping after all!

In fact, Jesus bestows them this vision of glory because Jesus, as he progresses toward Jerusalem, toward the cross, once more will appear in glory. It will not be the glory of Mount Tabor, but of Calvary. It will be the glory of the crucified God-man, Jesus Christ.
In the darkest of darknesses, in overwhelming sorrow, surrounded by the dregs of human sin, love speaks: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” (Lk 23:46).

God’s glory shines even here, even on the cross. Thus on the Second Sunday of Lent, we are given a vision of the Easter resurrection, a vision of the glorified body of Our Lord.

The goal is not to stay here. Instead, we receive this vision so that we may enter the darkness of the human condition, the places where death and sorrow seem totalizing, and recognize the glimmering light of love. The glimmering light of Jesus Christ.

The goal of the Christian life is not to receive a totalizing vision that erases all darkness. Instead, it is to receive a vision of a love that conquers death so that we can begin to glimpse the presence of hope even in sorrow.

In essence, that’s the program of Lent. To attune our eyes to the luminosity of love made possible through Jesus.

This article comes to you from OSV Newsweekly (Our Sunday Visitor) courtesy of your parish or diocese.

 

Catholic News & Perspective

Provides information on the Church, the nation and the world from OSV, America's most popular and trusted national Catholic news source


Recent

Catholics weigh in on closing southern border

Wednesday, April 17, 2019
By: Brian Fraga In moves criticized by Catholic immigration advocates as short-sighted and counterproductive, President Donald Trump in recent... Read More

Change of heart

Monday, April 15, 2019
By: Teresa Tomeo “The people that need to be in the seats just won’t show up.” This was one of the most common concerns expressed... Read More

Opening the Word: Pomp to redemption

Friday, April 12, 2019
By: Timothy P. O'Malley In the Church’s liturgy, Palm Sunday is strange. While liturgical prayer often will transition from sorrow to joy or... Read More

Four takeaways from new papal document ‘Christus Vivit’

Wednesday, April 10, 2019
By: Gretchen R. Crowe More than a few times throughout his six-year pontificate, Pope Francis has related how important he believes dialogue... Read More

An anti-religious world

Monday, April 8, 2019
By: Msgr. Owen F. Campion The news bulletin hit me. An arsonist had attacked the great Church of St. Sulpice in Paris. A few years ago, Our Sunday... Read More

Opening the Word: The newness of God

Friday, April 5, 2019
By: Timothy P. O'Malley God does new things. This is the presumption that drives the narrative of the Scriptures. In the prophet Isaiah, we hear... Read More

Featured National

Wednesday, April 3, 2019
By: Brian Fraga   Whether it’s for academics or other reasons, many same-sex couples across the country want to enroll their children in... Read More

An indirect gift

Monday, April 1, 2019
By: Teresa Tomeo The Pure Flix Entertainment film “Unplanned,” based on the book by former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby... Read More

Opening the Word: A prodigal God

Friday, March 29, 2019
By: Timothy P. O'Malley Parables like that of the prodigal or lost son find a way to capture the imagination of even secular men and women. The... Read More

Pro-life leaders talk post-Roe action steps

Wednesday, March 27, 2019
By: Brian Fraga If the U.S. Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade today, abortion would still be legal in most states tomorrow. Only five... Read More

Online Giving

Online Giving

Secure and Convenient Donate now!