Today’s gospel describes the Transfiguration of Jesus before three of his closest disciples when ‘he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.’ Lent is the time to purify the eye of the heart with which we see this kind of light.
In the spiritual realm the interior always absorbs the external and pulls it inwards into a higher level of being. The body remains a body but becomes a spiritual body. The mind remains conscious but at a level that transcends ego and duality.
In this gospel account of an enlightenment experience we see a manifestation of true nature that does not invalidate the material world and the human experience of relationship. This event did not happen when Jesus was alone but in the company of his most trusted companions.
It is hard for us to trust that the pure, object-less vision of God – the meaning of enlightenment - is not dis-embodied, occurring in an abstract realm. In fact, we are embodied and remain so for as long as we exist – for eternity - though the form of our bodies changes. Look in the mirror or through the photograph album.
Have you ever seen a being of light? Not an ethereal alien with spindly fingers and large brain or an angel with wings; but a human being who becomes luminous under the influence of love, truth or beauty. I saw this once when a sad and bitter woman nearing death read me a poem in which she she transmuted her suffering into beauty. As she read the poem she became momentarily, to my eyes at least, luminous and lovely.
The transfiguration of Jesus is more still than this. But such moments of illuminated glory in our human relationships suggest what the inner light of Jesus really is. And what is our own potential for transformation.
Laurence Freeman OSB
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