Working For Our Lasting And Future Glory!
Readings: (1st: Gen 12, 1-4; Ps 32, 4-5. 18-22; 2nd: 1Tim 1, 8-10; Gos: Matt 17, 1-9)
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans), Province of Nigeria South East. He is currently the Parochial Vicar of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church Woliwo Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
On this second Sunday of Lent, Year A, the Lord through his transfiguration gives us a glimpse of what the future and lasting glory that awaits us look like. Through this, he spurs and urges us on to be strong and courageous in our journey this season of Lent and beyond. Hence, if we adhere to our call obediently, we shall surely have every reason to simile home with the “Abrahamic type of “blessing” and also, attain Our Lasting Future Glory.
A couple of years ago, a friend of mine residing abroad came home with his eleven year old son, Sochima. The unassuming little boy fell in love with the village natural environment: the goats, rams, fouls, birds, squirrels, trees, vegetable gardens, fruits etcetera. He was as free as air to the point that he even walked about barefooted because of the sensation the natural sand gave his little foot. The greatest of it all was that Sochima fell in love with the kid of his grandpa’s ram to the extent that he bathed it every day and carried it on his shoulders like the portrait of Jesus the Good Shepherd. Also, he fed it with tea, bread and in fact whatever he himself eat and the kid responded well. Noticing that the holiday was coming to an end, the poor boy begged his father to allow him stay back in the village or let him travel along with the kid. His father explained to him that he has to go back because of his studies and that due to international regulations on the trafficking and transportation of animals across borders it will not be possible for the kid to come along. In the morning of the day they were to leave for the city from where they would board their flight the following day, the boy eloped with the kid to an unknown destination. A few hours later, he was found hiding with the kid in a nearby uncompleted building where he was cuddling and caressing it like his baby. His dad and grandpa persuaded him that it was time to go back abroad. Reluctantly, and after much crying he succumbed, bade farewell to his beloved kid and went with them. Unfortunately, a few days latter, the kid died. The boy like the “Inner Circle Apostles” in our gospel today had a glimpse of what nature is all about having lived in an “artificial environment” all his life and so desired to remain there not minding his studies or what international regulation says. But his father like Jesus knows that he has a task ahead and so gently urged him on.
In the first reading, God called and “commanded” Abram thus: “Leave your country… for the land I will show you…” It is important to note that this call has with it a promise: “I will make you a great nation…bless you…curse those who curse you.” But what is the condition for these blessings coming to fruition? Simple! Abram has to effectively respond to the clarion call not only “to leave” but to live up to expectation in his mission. In order words, his part of the covenant is obeying the “leave injunction.” Many times one hears people claiming Abraham’s blessings, without knowing that the condition necessary for the total appropriation and release of this blessing is strongly tied to obedience to God’s will and call. Response to the call has its attendant hardship. It must make one “leave something” behind no matter how pleasant and precious that thing is to one. It must make you do what ordinarily you would not want to do. Ask religious men and women, and they will tell you it is not easy being under a Superior or Mother General. Ask diocesan clergy men, and they will tell you how difficult it is to be under the leadership of one bishop for twenty five or more years. Ask married couples, and they will tell you many unpleasant tales about married life. In fact there are thousands of marriage cases at the marriage tribunal yearning for nullification. In short, response to the call must make you “leave” your comfort zone. When you live your call well, in spite of all these then, the “Abrahamic blessings” becomes yours. In the second reading Paul once again directs us to the grace of God as what sustains us in our bid to respond to our call. This grace though ancient, because it was there “before the beginning of time” was revealed by the appearing of Jesus Christ. In order words, we must in our daily efforts to respond to our call look up to this ancient grace which is Christ who by his death and resurrection has guaranteed our future glory.
In the gospel of today, and in what appears like one of Nollywood cum African Magic’s epic movies, the “Transfiguration drama” unfolds. Peter’s wishful statement on behalf of his colleagues: “Lord it is wonderful for us to be here…” represents the thought and attitude of most of us Christians. Often times, we tend to get so attached to a thing or place that we lose our focus. We want to remain in “big parishes” with its luxury, where people pay heavy tithe, where everything and everyone is at our disposal, and nothing at all perturbs our sleep. The temptation is for us to “lobby” as Peter did in order not to be posted out just for the immediate comfort, wealth and the “glory” it affords us. The members of Jesus’ inner circle reasoned like humans. Like most Christians, they allowed their human inclinations and reasoning to overshadow the spiritual. Also, their request betrayed their selfishness. If they remain there, what happens to the rest of the disciples who did not come along with them by no fault of theirs? Furthermore, they wished like most of us, to fast forward the hands of the clock by reducing an eon to a glimpse of time, and so missed the mark. The glory of God is revealed to us in order to sustain us, to let us know that if we work hard and respond effectively to our call, one day we shall be among the triumphant church represented by Elijah and Moses. The glory we experienced today in the transfiguration is not our last bus stop. Rather, it is only a glimpse, a tip of the iceberg of what our final destination looks like. It is like moving the FIFA World Cup from continent to continent in order to ignite passion for the game of football. It is not for any country to relax and say: “After all, the trophy has been to our country therefore, there is no point going to Brazil 2014”. No! The greatest joy and lasting glory comes through working hard and actually winning the trophy.
The “Transfiguration drama” only reveals the future glory in Christ for those who respond to their call very well. This future glory is for those who have washed themselves pure in the blood of the Lamb, those who travailed in prayer and good works and for those who have graduated through the “furnace of this world” for the sake of the good news (Rev 12:11). It is quite unfortunate that most Christians today want to share in this glory without working for it. We want the double portion of Abrahamic blessings without being ready to leave anything behind, we want to share in the double portion of Elijah’s anointing without first contending with the Jezebels and Ahabs of our time (I Kg 19), we want to share in the double portion of the prophetic power and might of Moses without undertaking the onerous task of leading the stubborn children of God out of the land of their captivity (Ex 6: 13), and like the sons of Zebedee, we want to seat at the right hand of Jesus’ throne (Mk 10: 37), when we have not drank of the cup he drank. What an Irony! After today brethren, let us get back to work, of course, with the picture of what we are working for and walking towards in our minds. It should serve as the “activation energy” motivating us to our lasting and future glory. We must obey his command and call for us to: “Stand up”, because the “mock drama” is over for now. So, let us go down the mountain to prepare and work for the “real”, final and lasting “drama” at the end of time. As we do this, Jesus bids us today as ever before: “Do not be afraid!”
Peace be with you!