Genesis 15: 5-12, 17-18; Phil 3:17–4:1; Luke 9: 28-36
If there is a common theme among the characters we encounter today, Peter, James, and John in the gospel and then Abraham, or Abram has he’s referred today before his name is changed, is that they are pretty clueless as to what God is trying to reveal to them. Like most of us, they have locked into their heads the way God is supposed to act, blessings to be bestowed, or whatever the case may be, that they can’t see what’s being revealed before their very eyes and within their lives. Yet, the journey also never stops for them. Despite such narrow vision in their lives and of this God, they know there’s still something more, even if they can’t quite grasp it.
For Abraham and Sarah for that matter, they’ve locked in their minds in struggling with the fact that they have not been give the blessing of a child, let alone a first-born son. I know there are people gathered here that have struggled with that as well, in waiting for children or realizing it’s not an option. There’s a part of the reading that is missing from what we hear from the Book of Genesis today that speaks of Abraham struggling and wrestling with God. They are now beyond child-bearing years and so Abraham is having a hard time grasping this reality and who this God is. This is how God blesses his people and how it is witnessed by others in the community. Their identity is wrapped up in this belief in God. Yet, God tries to show this much bigger reality to Abraham. Look at all the stars in the sky. Your descendants will be greater than that. But, Abraham can’t see it. He has only his own lens and that lens can’t see what God sees. Yet, he remains faithful and finds himself falling into a deep, terrifying darkness. Exactly where we think we won’t find God, Abraham hears the voice of God. It’s really his own dark night of the soul. It doesn’t come from some kind of physical suffering; rather, enveloped in darkness and still trusting that this mystery will reveal itself before and within him.
The three disciples today also don’t know what is being revealed to them. All they see is glory and dazzling white and all this great stuff that leads to Peter suggesting that they stay on top of the mountain. They don’t hear the conversation between Jesus and Moses and Elijah about the exodus that Jesus would accomplish in Jerusalem. There’s no staying atop the mountain, but rather must be enveloped in that same darkness that Abraham experiences, but this time at the foot of Calvary as they continue this journey to Jerusalem. They even get a glimpse of that as a cloud overcomes them that leads to silence. But like Abraham, the voice of God is revealed in the cloud, in this experience of darkness, but it’s too close. They tell no one anything because they themselves don’t know what it all means. They won’t know true glory and a much bigger God until they encounter the mystery that will unravel these weeks and for them, in the heart of Jerusalem.
Paul faces similar difficulties. He’s had his dark night already by this point and tries to lead others to this place, despite strong opposition by some. He speaks today how some find themselves as enemies of the cross or who find their glory in shame, but Paul knows something better. Like us, often, they try their hardest to face such suffering, such unknown and darkness, because it requires something much deeper than this world can offer. Paul understands that this darkness isn’t something to fear, but rather leads to deeper trust and letting go in life, to experience a God in greater glory, a God with deeper mystery, a God who speaks from the very place we don’t want to go.
As we continue our own journey to Jerusalem, we pray for a breaking through of our own thoughts of who this God is and the glory and mystery that God is trying to reveal to and through and within us. If we find ourselves confined in life, lost in our thoughts, and thinking we know how things should be with God, we must now pray for an openness to go to the place of unknown. It’s how we grow interiorly and find that place of true authority and true glory that is placed within our heart and soul. Whether we like it or not, exactly where we haven’t wanted to go in our lives is the place that God invites us now, to experience transformation, transfiguration, and a deeper conversion where the glory of God is revealed in and through the Cross and Resurrection. It’s where we’re called to trust and deepen our faith in a relationship that we can’t always see nor feel, but we know God is there, leading us to new life.