A young husband and wife learn they are about to become parents for the first time. They are excited, of course – but there is a lingering doubt: How can I be a parent to a child when I’m still pretty much a kid myself? Do I have what it takes to be a good mom, a good dad? I mean, I could really destroy a great kid here! But the young parents find within themselves the wisdom, the strength, the patience – the grace – to be a good mom and dad to this child they love more than they could imagine.
She took care of every detail of their family’s life together. Then she became ill with a debilitating illness. It was now all up to him. At first, he was lost, terrified. But he managed to make it all work: to handle all the demands of the household, to keep everyone on schedule, to be dad and sometimes mom to the kids, to be a strong and supportive husband to her. With the help of family and friends – and her – he found within himself the patience and where-with-all to keep family and home together.
A boy picks up a hurl for the first time. A girl takes her first tentative steps onto the court and begins dribbling the basketball. He nervously steps up to the lectern and clears his throat. She stares at the blank page for a long time before she begins putting down words – her words. He bends down to help, having no idea what to do. She sits by the bedside, having no idea what to say. The first time is always difficult. Who are we to think we can play this game, succeed at this craft, express anything meaningful in our art, offer any meaningful support or consolation (terrified, in fact, that we are certain to say the wrong thing)? But when we confront our fears, when we resolve to give all we have, when we devote the time to learn and practice, we amaze ourselves at the talents and abilities we possess and what we can do. We realize in those moments that we are, in fact, smart enough, capable enough, loving enough to learn, to succeed, to heal, to transform our lives and the world around us.
Those moments are transfigurations.
In the event we have come to call Jesus’ “transfiguration,” the three disciples actually realize the divinity – the very life and love of God – that exists within the person of Jesus. That same touch of divinity exists within each one of us, as well: God is present within us, animating us to do wonderful, holy things; guiding our steps as we try to walk justly and humbly in the ways of God; enlightening our vision with wisdom and selflessness to bring the justice and mercy of God to our world.
The challenge of discipleship is to allow the love of God within us to “transfigure” despair into hope, sadness into joy, anguish into healing, and estrangement into community.
Let our prayer on this feast of the Transfiguration be:
Let your love, O God, break forth from within our hearts and spirits, enabling us to transfigure our world in your compassion, justice and peace. May your life that we were baptized into, break forth from within our hearts and spirits, enabling us to transfigure our world in your compassion, justice and peace. May our every good work of transfiguration bring light to the dark nights experienced by others and the warmth of your sun to lives shivering in fear and cynicism.