Reflections on the Readings for Sunday 20 March 2011
Genesis 12:1-4a; Psalm 33:4-5, 18-20, 22; 2 Timothy 1:8b-10; Matthew 17:1-9
The story of Abraham is a powerful model for the life of faith. He is a person on a journey, following God without actually knowing his destination, but knowing that the purpose of the journey is blessing, not for him alone but for others as well. He leaves behind what is familiar. He sets out for a place that God will show him as he journeys. His life is not easy, but it is blessed.
We cannot live like Abraham unless we believe that God is to be trusted, and that we journey under God’s protection. The psalm voices that kind of confidence. It recognizes that there will be times of famine, but knows that even in those times God is to be trusted. The psalm also reminds us of the nature of the God we follow. We often cannot discern what lies around the next corner, but we can know the values and commitments we are called to as we take the next step. If God loves justice and is kind, our journey under God cannot contribute to the injustice and cruelty in the world. Just like Abraham, we are called to be a blessing.
St Paul reminds us that the journey is not easy and that we must be willing to bear hardships. He also reminds us that it is grounded at all times in the graciousness of God extended to us in Christ Jesus. We are given the strength to fulfill our calling to a life that reflects God and contributes to God’s dream for the world. It is a journey that is life-giving and life-affirming, that stands against death in all its forms. In it we participate in God’s greater purposes; we are part of something bigger than ourselves.
The mountaintop experience of the Transfiguration gave the disciples a ‘wow!’ glimpse of Jesus and the meaning of his life. Their reaction is quite understandable – they want to stay with the experience, to pitch tents there. But Jesus insists that they come down from the mountain and keep going on the journey toward the cross. The revelatory experience is important for them – their understanding of whom it is they are following needs to be deepened – but to stay there and contemplate it just won’t work. They will misunderstand the revelation if they do not keep journeying with Jesus through the crucifixion to the resurrection. That is why they are not to speak of it before then. The journey is going to become increasingly difficult, but they will be able for it because it is Jesus they are following and they have caught enough of a glimpse of his glory to fire and fuel their imaginations.