When I first went through these readings, I thought that God was having us be a little on the lazy side: “Our soul waits for the LORD” in the Psalm and God’s whole dialogue to Abram in the First Reading come to mind. It took awhile though, but I’ve come to the conclusion: God is pretty bossy this week!
Now, this week is probably where I’m going to drop some philosophy: How can humanity be truly free when passages such as “He…called us to a holy life, not according to our works, but according to his own design” are out there? Even if we are free, are we not just slaves to God? John Milton expressed it best: “Better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven.”
Yet, as we see this week in our Lord’s Transfiguration, He doesn’t yank the three up to their feet or force them up in any way; rather, He “came and touched them.” Touched. That sounds rather gentle, not forceful. But maybe this is too strong of an example; after all, I’m sure that if we saw the Transfiguration, we’d be pretty hyped about that too.
Let’s take it back to the First Reading. Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard really focused on Abraham, and one of his key points regarding our dear father in faith is the fact that, while the Bible portrays a one-on-one conversation, in fact, neither Sarah nor Isaac actually encounter God. This leads to the question: What makes Abraham the father in faith rather than a madman? For Kierkegaard, this depicts that fine line as to what faith really is: Faith causes “fear and trembling,” the name of one of Kierkegaard’s books; faith transcends the world we know. Man’s existential aim is transcendence.
I think, now, our Lord’s Transfiguration is not such a hard example anymore. His Transfiguration is our aim, an aim possible only through faith. For those of you who hate “faith” as an answer: Believe me when I say that I’m with you in that boat. But that’s kinda the point of faith. If you’re giving a person who really hurt you a second chance, you’re taking a leap of faith; if you’re asking that stellar girl/breathtaking guy out, that’s a leap of faith; picking an academic/career plan is a leap of faith. All three of these things induce fear and trembling. Faith is not easy–it’s not supposed to be. So, then, how the hell do we do this? Why take me around in a circle, Kevin?
The passage I used from St. Paul to reference God as “bossy” explains this perfectly, I think: A calling is not a command. Rather, a calling is simply an invitation. The Lord is simply inviting us to live that “unique” (holy) life, that “special” life. If it’s special, then it’s not a life designed by man, but, rather, it is modeled by our Lord. But, of course, anything divine is difficult–nay, impossible–for us mortals. And I think we forget this about faith and Christianity sometimes: It’s not easy–it’s not supposed to be. If it’s easy, you’re not doing it right. I don’t think I’m being judgmental here, either; St. Paul calls us to “bear [our] share of hardship for the gospel.” In fact, he often talks about his own hardship–his “thorn in the flesh.” But we’re not alone in this endeavor though: We bear this hardship “with the strength that comes from God.”
If I lost you in all of that philosophy, I’ll use this paragraph to sum up my main reflection in three points. First, I think that this week is introducing to us part of what it means to live a Christian life, in that this life induces fear and trembling. Second, God is inviting us to live this life–He doesn’t command us to it. (That’s kinda part of the whole “free will” package.) Finally, “our mission, should we choose to accept it,” will not be an easy one. It will require the grace and strength of God; it will require us to “listen to him.” Then, as we pursue our Christian journey, when we look up, hopefully, we will see no one else but Jesus alone.
Originally posted on Blogger on 3/12/2017.