Are we there yet?

This is a question that many parents are asked when they are on a car journey with small children. The answer usually is ‘not YET!’

This, sometimes perplexing conversation, came to mind when I was reflecting on the readings for today the 2nd Sunday of Lent year B.

Genesis 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18

Romans 8:31b-34

Mark 9 2-10

Close encounters

From the book of Genesis, we witness the heart wrenching sacrifice that God asked of Abraham

‘Take your son, your only child Isaac, whom you love …and offer him as a burnt offering on the mountain I will point out to you.’

Abraham went the whole nine yards until a divine intervention stayed his hand. ‘Because you have not refused me your only son I will shower blessings on you.’

Abraham though not there YET proved that he was on his way.

In the Gospel today, from the evangelist Mark, Peter, James and John climb up a mountain with Jesus. They are a bit glum because they had just been told by Jesus that he was to suffer and die. Imagine their confusion and probably unbridled joy when they see a very different Jesus more in keeping with their own immature hopes.

‘In their presence he was transfigured his clothes became dazzlingly white.’

Moses and Elijah, representing the Law and the Prophets, join Jesus and they begin a conversation. Then, just as with Abraham, we witness a divine endorsement

‘This is my son the beloved. listen to him.’

Peter, James and John easily and understandably cast aside the gloom and doom story. They must have thought they had died and gone to Heaven and obviously wanted to stay there. However, they are brought down to earth with a bump as they behold once again the ‘ordinary’ Jesus. This most human of scenes leaves Peter James and John very puzzled, and what do they do? They begin to think again about what Jesus is telling them about his suffering and death. Maybe they got that wrong in the first place. The humanity of their struggle is heart-warming as they try to really understand what Jesus said. We can see clearly that despite their proximity to Jesus, both real and glorified, Peter, James and John are not there YET. Such a powerful and utterly human scene.

Closer to home

These close encounters with God are not confined to biblical characters. Many of us have had a similar experience which sometimes loses inner depth when we try to put words on it. We struggle to convey its core. It is felt more in the body than in the mind. Some attempts have been made to describe it

-An exhilarating moment in time frozen with clarity…

-Everything just came together and was just right…

-I wanted to stay in this spot and remain forever… but then I realised that I couldn’t. However delirious with excitement I was at the time, I knew that it was not to last, I had to move on. I was not there YET

Even closer

Then there is in our everyday lives evidence of totally selfless actions which we just catch sometimes out of the corner of our eye when no one else is watching. These almost unnoticed acts of goodness, kindness, inclusivity, selflessness, understanding, sprinkle our lives with a bit of glitter. They come and go, but we do remember them with joy and appreciation.

Re-membering

It is clear that all of these close encounters however treasured are not lasting. Those who have inhabited them for a time know that they must move on. They know that they are on the road but, there is a definite moment of awareness that they are not there YET. However, it is an experience that can be recalled when life gets tough;

  • when on a lonely night of pain and sickness we leave the curtains open hoping to survive the night and see the first light of a new day.
  • when bombs are whirling around us and we lose our family and our home
  • when we cannot feed our beloved children
  • when a loved one dies and we cannot see the way forward
  • when the future seems to be a place where we feel we do not want to go.
  • when we make a huge mistake and feel we cannot face the consequences

So whether we enjoy a deep experience like Peter, James and John, have a deep personal transformational moment in time or watch out for the sparkles in our lives, we can re-member them when the need arises. It is during these times of need that we must remind ourselves that we ARE on the road while we are very clear that we are not there YET.

Kathleen Fitzsimons, OP