Sunday, March 20, 2011

On Fire

Readings for Sunday, March 20/ Second Sunday of Lent:
Genesis 12:1-4
Psalm 33:4-5,18-20,22
2 Timothy 1:8-10
Matthew 17:1-9

One of my favorite bands since I was a teenager has been Blindside, a Christian hardcore band from Sweden. If you understand the words they're screaming, you can actually find a beautiful and deep message. One such message from them is in the song 'King of the Closet,' whose chorus is "I'm a vampire. I'm afraid the light will set me on fire." On the surface it seems rather odd, and yet if we look into it and see it in it's context, we come to see that it is the singer's way of saying that he is not worthy to enter into the presence of the Lord - the light - and that the fire that will ensue will be the purging from his soul of all that is not of God, a purging that he still may not be entirely ready to endure. If we are honest with ourselves, I think most of us can relate because we all have our 'pet sins' that we cling to. In the story of the Transfiguration of the Lord, we are then called to into into the light and be set aflame. 

In the Old Testament we have the story of Moses ascending Mount Sinai where the Shekinah cloud descends upon him and he speaks face to face with God. When he comes down from the mountain his face - reflecting the light of the Lord - is so radiant that he has to cover it for the sake of the Israelites. He entered the light and was purified by that cleansing fire and stood before the people as a a genuine reflection of the Lord Himself. In our gospel passage today from Matthew, we see a similar story. But this time the Lord goes up on the Mountain and doesn't become radiant on account of anything outside Himself, rather the glory that is contained in Him is finally manifested to those three blessed Apostles. They have the gift of seeing the Lord in glory to strengthen their faith and to affirm the fact that He is divine - God from God, Light from Light. When they see this great mystery and hear the voice of the Father - they immediately fall prostrate on the ground. What struck me today is that when the Lord comes to them and says "Rise, do not be afraid," the gospel writer says simply "they saw no one else but Jesus alone."Sure, this is a way of saying that Moses and Elijah had disappeared, but it is also a way of say that they were wholly focused on Christ. In the presence of the Light, a portion of their impurity was burned away and they became more pure, more single-hearted, more focused on Christ. Pray that we too might have the strength to step out of our darkness into the Light, where we too will be cleansed and see no one else but Jesus alone.