Second Sunday of Lent
One of my favorite bible verses is from the book of Proverbs, “A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones” (Prov 17:22). In his Transfiguration, Jesus gives us cause for true joy. Not the kind of passing joy and laughter we experience from the mistakes made by kids on their history exams, like these delightful blunders:
The cause of Rome’s fall was an invasion of ball bearings.
Ancient Egypt was ruled by mummies who wrote in hydraulics.
King Solomon had seven hundred wives and three hundred porcupines.
Noah’s wife was Joan of Ark. She was burned to a steak.
Lincoln was born in a log cabin built with his own hands.
Bach was the most famous composer in the world; so was Handel.
Handel was half German, half English, and half Italian. He was a very big man.
In a world filled with suffering our hearts need better reasons for true joy than light humor can give us. Even novels and movies give witness that a greater power than human nature is needed to overcome the evils that are all around us. Like the tales of Spider-Man who clings to walls and swings from place to place by a single strand of a spider’s web in his war against crime. Or, the transforming power of Clark Kent, an ordinary looking news reporter in a plain brown suit and thick eyeglasses, who is really Superman. Walking down the street and seeing two bad guys rob an old lady of her purse, Clark Kent slips behind some bushes, pulls off his brown suit coat and emerges transfigured as Superman in a tight blue leotard with a giant letter “S” embossed in red across his muscular chest. Superman flies over to the two robbers, bounces their heads together, and returns the stolen purse to the astonished little old lady. But these tales and myths have no power to overcome the great evils in our fallen world. They only witness to our need for a Savior who really has the power to defeat sin and death, and give us the joy, the happiness, that will last forever. That power and glory was revealed to us in the Transfiguration of Jesus.
St. Peter writes, “We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty … while we were with him on the holy mountain. … You’ll do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:16-19). Jesus, transfigured with glory, ablaze with divine light and a beauty that ravishes our hearts, revealed his divinity, that he is the beloved Son of God.
In Jesus, the kingdom of heaven, the reign of God, has begun; but he does not take away tribulation, suffering and death. Instead, he will pass through them and rise from the dead. During his Transfiguration, Jesus reveals that our true happiness is found not by avoiding the way that leads to the Cross, but by following Jesus through suffering and death to resurrection and eternal happiness forever.