NO SCARS, NO GLORY!
Second Sunday of Lent (C)
Scripture Readings: Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18; Psalms 27:1, 7-8, 8-9, 13-14; Luke 9:28B-26
My dear encountered couples:
All of us have a physical scar or two, don’t we? It might be a scar from surgery, or scars from the slip of a kitchen knife, or an accidental burn from a hot pot. And who doesn’t have at least one scarred knee from childhood falls and scrapes?
Experiences in our lives also form psychological scars, which form windows through which we view our lives and the world around us.
A child abused by his or her parents, teachers, church people, or friends is scarred with the memories of beatings, sexual molestation, or abandonment. A broken heart is a scar. An engagement which was cancelled or a marriage which failed leaves people doubtful of the permanency of anything.
Physical and psychological scars change us. That is, once scarred, we can never be the same again. But we’d prefer not to think or talk about our scars. We have too many, and all are painful. So, we pursue the dazzle of life. We want to see the fantastic. We want to see heroes and heroines without scars. Novels and movies satisfy our hunger. They give us a glimpse of the extraordinary and other worldly – where there are a few, if any, scars.
Announce a vision of the Virgin taking place in Medjugorje or Lubbock, Texas, and watch the pilgrims crowd in to see the fantastic, the unscarred, the glory of it all. And you can’t fault them. You see, it’s in our bones.
We hunger for the extraordinary because it enables us to escape the pain of our scars. This is why the story in today’s gospel – we call the Transfiguration – is one of the gospel stories we never tire of hearing. You can picture Jesus standing on top of a mountain. A gentle breeze blows through His garments as they begin to glow white, like the sun on the snow. His face, too, changes in appearance; He radiates power as the sunbeams streak through the clouds and dance all around.
This is a snapshot we want to have in our iphones or ipads, Instagram or facebook. We want to stop the action and just let that light of glory shine on us. “Hold it,” we say. “I like this.” “Let’s build three tents” was Peter’s way of stopping the action. We can build a church with a huge cross on it. Or, we can erect a statue of Jesus like that in the Ozark mountains in Arkansas which is seven stories high and weighs a million pounds. Then, we can bask in the glory of the vision and say, “How good it is for us to be here.” No scars – all glory!
But wait just a minute! Peter didn’t know that he was talking about and neither do we. Life isn’t full of glory. In fact, there’s precious little of it. There’s a lot more suffering and death than glory in ordinary life, isn’t there?
Well, glory isn’t what the story is all about. The story is about suffering and death.
St. Paul in today’s first reading says to the Philippians and to us – that his desire to stop in the middle of the glory makes us “enemies of the cross of Christ.” We stand up against the cross, cover it up, sterilize it, and pretend it never happened.
You see, the action of suffering and death continues throughout life. Jesus speaks about the passage, the exodus, that He is going to make in Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, He will suffer, be put to death, and rise on the third day. After this, the action will continue in the Church, as St. Luke pictures it in the Acts of the Apostles, and as we find it in our own lives.
Yes, sisters and brothers – the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus – His scarring, the paschal mystery – is repeated in our lives, in our “vivencias”, in our scars.
Suffering is evident when, for instance, we put off making a decision; when we do not face the problem that needs to be solved; or when we fail to accept the limitations imposed on us by health and other circumstance. And once we face the problem and deal with it, and accept our own human limitations, we die.
But new life or resurrection always follows decision-making, or a solution, and the acceptance of human limits. So, the action of sharing in Jesus’ glory cannot be stopped. Life goes on. It is a continuous passage, an exodus, through suffering and death to new life.
Lent is our time to turn loose and live and make the passage, the paschal mystery. But we must make the passage and accept the scars. We must live.
God, you see, joins us to himself through our life experiences. Our scars, painful as they are, are signs of God’s love.
“Listen to Him,” God says. “This is my Son, my Chosen One.” “Listen to Him”, for he can teach you how to make the passage through suffering and death to life.
If we have listened carefully, we know that we already share in His scars through our own. His paschal mystery is traced in our lives. Remember, what happened to him – the scarring – is happening now to us, as we live. We can never be the same again. We are transfigured by these scars of ours!