Transformed : Two Roman Catholic Women Priests Reflect on the Second Sunday of Lent 3/12/17
Today we look at the promises of our God that lead to blessing and transformation and the faith that is necessary to claim them. Faith by definition is a step out into the unknown, the uncertain. It is not the territory of the known or the easily explainable. Sometimes these days we worry too much about what we can never know-like exactly what happened eons ago as told in Scriptural passages. With all of our scientific knowledge we seek rational explanations for everything as if we need to know for sure before we step. But life is full of times when we must step out without knowing.
This week Pastor Judy Beaumont is starting a new and experimental cancer treatment. What she had before was very hard on her but it was working, although its history is such that it could stop being effective at any moment. She is a woman of very strong faith. As I accompany her on this journey sometimes I am more afraid and worried than she is. After much prayer and underpinned by the prayers of many she decided to step forth on faith to take this new treatment. Thus far,all goes well with this. It is a gentler treatment but will it be effective? Its gentleness is a partial miracle, with effectiveness it would be quite a miracle, and that is what we have been praying for. It is a step into completely unknown territory with great hopes, not unlike the hopes of Abram and Sarai as they stepped out on faith to a new land. Or the trust of Jesus as he stepped forth toward the Passion and Resurrection. Or to the disciples as they coped with the journey that was set before them in the Gospel of the day (Matthew 17:1-9)-to keep on believing in Jesus, in the fullness of who he is, and do what he asked of them no matter what was ahead.
In Genesis 12:1-4 we see God asking Abram to leave all he knows, to move from the land of his kinfolk, and make a journey into a new land that God would show him. God promises that he would become the father of nations even though his wife was barren. While Abram was part of a people that moved around, this was a lot to ask for-in so many ways it was farther than he could ever envision and he was already 75 years old. We can just hear his wife Sarai saying, move where? Why? (And,well she might fear if she knew what part of the journey would have in store for her!) Yet Abram had faith that was strong enough to propel his journey and he and sarai and his extended family left the known for the completely unknown. . And he was thereby eventually transformed to Abraham and Sarai to Sarah -the father and mother of the people of God.
In the Psalm of the day (Psalm 33) we are told to place our trust in God who loves justice and right. (So if this is what God loves this is what we must do leaning on our faith and we are both blessed and transformed for doing it. Pastor Judy B and I see our Good Shepherd ministry as both transformative for us and those we serve, and blessing in our lives).We are told that God’s eyes are upon those who “hope for God’s kindness to deliver them from death and preserve them in spite of famine “( Or anything else). In the picture below Roger ,who was among the first to join our ministry to the homeless in 2007, is blessing our new Priest Rvda. Maria Elena. Roger told us later how happy he was to come and to bless her and worship with us once again because we changed his life. We told him that it was God who changed his life and he agreed,reminding us that he was living in the streets for three years when we met him and was unable to find a way to housing. He was the first one who asked us to pray for him in the street ministry. He then started to spend nights on his knees praying. When we finally helped him to claim his Veterans medical services and SSI income in 2008 and 2009 and to obtain Goodwill housing for the physically disabled he could not believe the miracle of his answered prayers. He has remained with our Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Church for ten years, making his Confirmation in 2014. He always brought an offering of love to church from his small income in a large white envelope. He gave that to us once again at the Ordination and we assured him it would help someone else. Roger took a leap of faith and his life was truly transformed. There is life and joy where there was sadness and despair. And his story is multiplied a hundred fold and more. Thanks be to God!
And so too with faith Abram and Sarai were both transformed and delivered.And so Jesus who prayed on the mountain with three of his disciples before his violent death by crucifixion was ultimately transformed through his miraculous resurrection shattering the finality of death for all of us. On that mountain with disciples as scared witnesses he was also transformed/transfigured before them in a vision that they shared. The blessings of his Father given at his baptism-you please Me my Son- flowed over him once again. And, as the Eucharistic Preface of the day says: “For after he had told the disciples of his coming death,on the holy mountain he manifested to them his glory,to show,even by the testimony of the law and the prophets,that the Passion leads to the glory of the Resurrection….”
May we be blessed with life and transformed as we step out on faith and risk what is “unriskable” without it-our very lives- for the realization of the reign of God in love , compassion and justice for everyone.
Rev.Dr.Judy Lee, RCWP
And now for Dr. Beverly Bingle, RCWP on Transfiguration
Biblical anthropologist John Pilch says that
describing the disciples’ experience of Jesus’ transfiguration as a “vision”
is an important piece of information.
Modern psychological anthropology tells us
that the majority of the world’s cultures
do not consider alternative states of consciousness
to be odd or irrational.
They see them as normal human experiences.
Cultures like ours are the ones that need to take another look.
In the USA we’re more likely to talk about hallucinations or illusions
instead of visions or transfigurations.
But we do know about change.
We know that people can change, dramatically.
Old dogs can learn new tricks.
People jailed for serious crimes turn their lives around
and become productive citizens,
even role models for youngsters.
The footloose and fancy-free
have been known to shape their idealism
into responsibility and commitment.
These days we see scores of folks
turning out for demonstrations and marches
because they have a better idea—a vision—
of what our country should be.
They have a vision.
Then there’s the difference that faith makes—
the change in people who live what they believe.
It’s plainly visible.
John’s gospel tells us
that everyone will know that we are Jesus’ disciples
if we love one another.
If we believe that,
and if we begin to act out of that love,
then we will change our lives.
And people will notice.
We will be transfigured.
The early followers of Jesus saw transfigurations all around them.
Acts 10:38 says that Jesus went about doing good,
and people saw it
and followed him.
Chapter 13 of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians
tells us what that love looks like.
You know the passage: Love is patient, love is kind….
If we are not changing,
not acting out of love,
not becoming transformed,
then we cannot call ourselves disciples.
We cannot call ourselves Christians
unless people can see a difference in us.
The turning point—
that point where the change becomes noticeable—
Today’s first reading calls Abram to change.
He goes from being Abram of one tribe
to Abraham for all the tribes,
for all the nations.
Today’s second reading encourages Timothy to change.
Paul tells him to lead a holy life,
to fan to flame the gifts he has,
not with a spirit of fear
but with a spirit of love.
And today’s gospel shows the transfigured Jesus
inspiring Peter, James, and John to follow him.
We’ll hear about another transfiguration next Sunday
in the story of Jesus and the woman at the well.
The Sunday after that
we’ll hear the story of the transfiguration of the man born blind.
And the Sunday after that
we’ll hear the story of Lazarus untied and set free,
brought to life,
Something clicked for Peter, James, and John on that mountaintop with Jesus.
They finally understood that he was the real thing;
a leader, like a new Moses;
a prophet, like a new Elijah.
Those three disciples finally learned
that Jesus’ very being
was an expression of the God’s presence,
They had to listen to him.
They were compelled to follow him.
What changed them?
What made the difference for the woman at the well,
for the blind man, for Lazarus?
It was Jesus’ compassionate love,
his honesty, his truth,
and his hunger to share all his life—
the length of it and the memory of it,
the quantity and the quality of it—
to share life and love with the likes of them.
The Spirit of God—the divine Spirit—filled Jesus’ soul,
and it changed him
to the point that it became visible.
Jesus taught with his very life,
with what he did with it
and all the ways he lived it
by giving it to God.
The power of his goodness
moves us to be like him,
to imitate him.
We become, like Peter, James, and John, disciples.
We learn how to be good.
Then our goodness becomes contagious.
Others are inspired by us—
by our compassionate love;
the power of our truth;
our freedom to be wholly ourselves,
the selves we are made to be.
We are changed.
We become more like Jesus.
Thanks be to God!
Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m./Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
at 3925 West Central Avenue
Toledo, OH 43606
Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor.