Saturday, February 17, 2007

Saturday in the 6th Week of Ordinary Time (I)
Faith and Sight

Readings: Hebrews 11:1-7; Psalms 145:2-3, 4-5, 10-11; Mark 9:2-13


It’s sometimes tempting to think that the personalities in the scriptures had it quite a lot easier than we do. They are often described as enjoying such intimate conversations with God. One gets the impression that they could actually see and touch and speak with God at every moment of the day. What a contrast to our own situation. Even when we do remember that God is in our midst, we have to struggle to seek and to find the unseen One. And especially when the going gets tough, when its seems we have little or nothing tangible to which to cling, we need to go by faith, the same faith that the first reading speaks of, the faith that alone can guarantee the blessings that we hope for, or prove the existence of the realities that at present remain unseen.

Yet we are reminded today that it is for faith that our ancestors were commended. Even for Abel, Enoch and Noah, it was by faith and not by sight that they came to enjoy the reward of being ushered into the presence of God.

And if the experience of Peter, James and John is anything to go by, sight can be highly overrated. In the gospel, these three privileged disciples are given a vision of Christ in his heavenly glory. They see the Lord conversing with Moses and with Elijah. Yet they still find it difficult to understand the significance of the sight. The Transfiguration on the mountain is meant to help them to believe that Jesus is indeed the One anointed by God, the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. So that in believing this, they might descend the mountain with him and follow him on the road that leads to Calvary, confident that Jesus will rise again. Instead, Peter probably speaks for the others when he requests to stay on the mountain. Sight is given only so that faith might be strengthened. But it is to sight that Peter wishes to cling. Let us make three tents…

Lest we be too quick to judge or to laugh at Peter, James and John, don’t we also have similar experiences as theirs? Although probably none of us have seen the glorified Jesus with our naked eyes, it’s quite likely that we have had our own experiences of transfiguration – times when we too were brought to the mountain-top, times when we felt spiritually rejuvenated or strengthened, times when God graced us with a felt sense of the divine presence. What was our reaction? How did we interpret the experience? What did it do for our faith? How did it help us when the time came to make our descent?

Only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope for…
How might the Lord be strengthening our faith today?

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