2nd Sunday of Lent
February 25, 2018
A Parishioner Transformed
In one of the parishes where I was pastor, I began to notice a man who would sometimes come to Mass.
For our purposes today, let’s just call him Wayne. He appeared to be a few years younger than I am.
Wayne had long, almost shoulder-length hair and always wore a baseball cap. He dressed in jeans and a tee-shirt or sweat shirt.
I wondered who Wayne was and I perceived him as a bit different from most people his age. And then, one day I got to meet him.
We talked and before long we started to meet together at times over a coffee and a bagel in the morning. I discovered a person with a rich life experience – a marine who had served in Vietnam, a husband and father of four children.
I discovered a person who read and thought deeply about things and was every bit my match intellectually. In fact, he has a Doctorate in International Studies.
He and I have become good friends. So, Wayne was always Wayne, but my perception of him really got transformed.
This personal experience helps me to appreciate what happens in today’s gospel.
Peter, James, and John had already seen a lot of Jesus. They and others were amazed at his wisdom and insight in the synagogue. (Mark 1.27)
They had already seen him heal a paralyzed man. To that, some people said, “We have never seen anything like this.” (Mark 2.12)
They had seen him calm the stormy sea. They themselves had said, “Who is this that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4.41)
So, they had seen all of this, but they still didn’t really get it. They still didn’t see him for who he really was.
And then it suddenly happens on this mountain. It all comes together for them, something like my experience with Wayne.
They see him as the One who brings to fulfillment the Ten Commandments that Moses had given. They see him as the One promised by the prophet Elijah.
They even see him as the beloved Son of God. They finally get it.
This is the divine, it is God breaking into the world in this person. So, much as with me and my friend Wayne, Jesus was still the same Jesus, but now the disciples’ perception of him is transformed and they see him for who he really is.
This transformation in the disciples’ perception leads me to this idea.
We are to see our time on earth as a continual process of transformation. We are to keep our eyes on Jesus and allow ourselves to be transformed little by little into his likeness.
This work is life-long and it ends only when someday we see God face to face. This, I believe, is the way to understand our earthly journey and very importantly, it is also the way for us to look at one another.
None of us is finished with our transformation in Christ. The important thing for all of us is that we are looking at Jesus – as Peter, James and John were – and that we are in the process of being transformed.
Pope Francis and Transformation
One final idea!
I think this understanding of our need for ongoing transformation lies behind Pope Francis’ basic approach. And I find his approach very refreshing.
This is why Pope Francis does not judge people. He made that now famous statement: “Who am I to judge?”
This is why he is reluctant to draw insider/outsider boundaries. It’s why he is reluctant to exclude people from being an active part of the Church.
Instead, Pope Francis looks beyond differences and looks more deeply at people. He sees himself – and I think he is urging us to see ourselves – as one with others, regardless of differences.
He is calling us to see everyone – beginning with ourselves – as in the process of being transformed in Christ. If we are, that’s enough.
We can gather here and pray and worship together – one in Christ. So, that’s my take on today’s gospel!