Second Sunday of Lent
March 16-17, 2019
One of the highlights of this week’s readings is the exhortation that the followers of God need to be above the things of this world. Jesus’ entire ministry was based on the idea that in all things we need to be more like God and less like human beings if we are going to be true citizens of the Kingdom of God.
Most people, when confronted with the imagery of the Kingdom of God, only seem to acknowledge the future component of the kingdom, heaven. Jesus never stops telling his disciples, and us, that the kingdom is not an amorphous future promise, but it needs to be established by our actions of love in the here and now.
St. Paul reminds the Philippians that we are citizens of God’s kingdom and not just citizens of the world. This other worldly citizenship requires us to eschew the ways of this world and concentrate on taking care of each other to make that kingdom happen.
But in the reading from Genesis and Luke we are reminded that God is always present to us in this life. All we need to do is open our eyes and hearts to God’s presence in this world. Jesus reminds us that God isn’t a cruel master who expects us to act in a certain way, and then leaves us to our own devices to make that happen. We believe, we know, that God is in this world and the Transfiguration serves as a reminder that all we need to do is open our eyes and hearts. The German Mystic Meister Eckhart said, “We see God with the same eye God sees us.” This seeing isn’t some earth-shaking vision with angels and earthquakes, but it happens when we open our everyday eye to the heaven that is already here. We experience it constantly when we hold our children, when we appreciate a beautiful sunset, when we are shown love and compassion in times of stress and mourning, when we remember why we fell in love with our spouses, when we simply slip off into a blissful sleep after a day with no disasters.
There is a story of a Zen fishmonger who receives enlightenment, but still sells fish, and smells of fish and when people ask him what’s so great about life now? He replies, “Well everything is the same as it was before, except that sometimes wherever I go trees come to life.” That needs to be us as we stumble forward in life with the knowledge that Christ was here, and Christ will come again and is here, now. This is the real gateway to heaven.
– Barry Zavislan