Sunday, February 21, 2016

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor

Quote of the Week: “Never pray in a room without windows.” — Julian of Norwich.

Images of transformation abound in the liturgy of the word today: spoken promises; dramatic covenants experienced in trances and deep, terrifying darkness; smoking pots and flaming torches; going up to the mountain to pray; changing appearances; appearances of dead people conversing with the living; being overcome by sleep then fully awake; visions of glory; entering clouds and shadows; a voice in the darkness.

These are familiar yet fantastic biblical experiences. They always mean something and accompany important events.

Today, much is revealed to Abraham and to Peter, John and James. Each experiences the divine. All come to know God and Jesus in a new way. These experiences changed each one in ways that they could never be the same.

Struck silent, they experienced awe! Faith began for the Israelite people through the covenantal experience of Abraham with God.

The passing between animals dead and split in two gave a very clear indication of what should and would happen to anyone who broke “The Covenant.”

The three disciples were dumbstruck by a transforming experience, the likes of which there was no comparison. They “heard the voice of God” speak in the cloud, in the darkness, telling them to “listen” to my Son, listen to HIM! “After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone.”

How strange! How clear! How difficult to understand or explain — silence was the only response.

It is Lent. We are asked to reflect on the covenant of love that God has given to us by entering into our humanity by through the gift of his Son.

Has this covenant of love changed us? Do we comprehend how intimate and total is the love of God for his people — for us? Do we get it?

We, too, have been invited to the mountaintop. We, too, know of the transformation of Jesus through his death and resurrection. We, too, have been forever changed by the promise to share the same, to experience new and eternal life through a sharing in that same death and resurrection.

This is the basis of our faith in Jesus. This is the radical understanding that can only come about through faith. The gift of Lent calls us to the mountaintop to experience a deeper relationship with God and a deeper understanding of our faith.

The penances — the extra things we do or the things we give up — are meant to jar us out of our ordinary rhythms of life so we can look anew and see more the mystery of God in our life.

Are we willing to go into our own darkness? Can we listen and hear the voice of God in new ways, perhaps through others and their experiences of faith? Does God wish to give us more and give it perhaps in new ways? Are we willing to go there, be there, listen and see there?

Peter, John and James were gifted to share the mountaintop experience together. Though silent at first, they had an experience to share forever and one to understand more deeply through the awful days to come.

Perhaps we, the disciples of this day and this place, could share how we experience Jesus, how we hear his call, how we know his presence, how we are transformed.

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email Follow Father Perry on Twitter @MrDeano76.

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