The sacred scriptures contain theophanies, (revelations of God) moments when God reveals self to a person like Moses in the burning bush, gives Moses the tablet with the ten commandments. Similarly, Elijah encounters God in the silence, Jesus experiences the voice of God at the Jordan through John’s baptism of repentance. These moments often involve light including the moment of Transfiguration where Jesus’ face shone like the sun, his clothes dazzling white.
On each of my trips to the Holy Land there are days when the sunshine is very bright, reflecting off the white stones of most buildings including the hilltops and desert expanses. Sunrise in the Holy Land is spectacularly vibrant not unlike the sun rising over Mt. Hamilton to the east of us on a clear morning. What was it like for Jesus, in Nazareth and Capernaum to experience the light of the day, his image of God the Father? Or as he rested by the Sea of Galilee, the sun shimmering off the surface of the water while watching the fishermen at work casting their nets in the Sea.
He climbed Mt. Tabor where the sun can be intense, clouds skimming across the blue sky, illuminating all the fields below. There on a mountain Jesus brought his disciples, Peter, James and John and revealed his glory to them as God revealed glory to Moses and Elijah. Later Jesus would pray on the Mount of Olives where the sun reflecting off the stones on either side of the valley can be dazzlingly white, almost hurting the eyes without sunglass protection. On this day of transfiguration, the disciples have seen a glimpse of God’s glory in Jesus and they were all too willing to stay there. He is bright! He is radiant! He is incredible! This preview of glory will not fully be appreciated until after the Resurrection.
In the same way the rising of the sun transforms the day, our occasional encounters with God’s glory transforms our lives; how can these forty days of Lent continue to shape our lives? Our encounters might greatly transform us as we give alms, fast from food or harmful activities, and pray earnestly for the church and one another. All of these movements can transform us, if we let them….