By Julie McElmurry, Director of Franciscan Passages and Former Jesuit Volunteer
Jesus invites Peter, James and John to witness something so indescribable that words fail them and words fail even the Gospel writer himself. Of the Transfiguration, the writer can only tell us that Jesus’ clothes became the brightest white imaginable. In the shock of seeing Moses and Elijah there with Jesus, our three astonished heroes could only think of offering housing to them. On top of all of this excitement, the actual voice of God booms onto the scene, telling our guys to listen to Jesus. Peter “hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.”
An encounter with God dumbfounds us too. We scramble to make sense of what just happened and then we scramble to articulate it for ourselves. At times, we try to articulate it to others, at other times we are too afraid to talk about such deep things. Words are inadequate since they are merely symbols, pointing beyond themselves to a greater reality. Words can never fully capture that feeling, that vision, that moment when, in my heart and mind, I know God just saved me, comforted me, or guided me. My descriptions will not sufficiently paint the whole 3-D picture of such an encounter, but I’m obligated to try to share it anyhow.
Focus on the Four Pillars:
Spirituality: Ask God to dumbfound you this week. Be open to what comes next.
Social Justice: A rough-looking guy came up to her truck as we sat waiting. When asked, my boss from the homeless shelter gave him a few dollars out of her purse. “How can you do that, knowing what you know?” I asked, to which she responded “How can you sit there and not do that, knowing what you know?” During a lull tomorrow, ask your boss to explain their perspective on something you disagree on. Listen and consider what she has to say.
Simple Living: They thought I was nuts. I didn’t know how to describe this “year of service” concept to my co-workers at the homeless shelter. Do your colleagues understand it? Do they ask you about it? Choose a co-worker and sit down with them, recounting in a simple way, the journey from deciding to apply to accepting the offer which brought you here today.
Community: In his terror, at least Peter managed to come up with an offer of hospitality (providing a tent) for Moses, Elijah and Jesus. On Facebook today, tell the story of a time you made a feeble yet sincere offer to others in response to an astonishing incident. Ask others to share their stories.
This reflection is a part of our Lenten series - download the entire reflection guide here.