Gospel Story of the Week
The Transfiguration of Jesus – Matthew 17: 1-9
“This is my Son, the beloved; with him I am well pleased.” (Matt 17: 5)
Reflection on the Gospel
When we have the courage to admit it, each of us longs for the powerful affirmation that Jesus hears in the Transfiguration: “In you I am well pleased.” We long to be blessed by hearing God is delighted with us.
The way I take delight in my grandchildren has helped me grasp something of the delight God takes in us. I love playing with my grandchildren – reading stories with them, taking them on outings and spending time with them in whatever way they want to spend it. My delight often takes the form of wonder when I see them do something that expresses their uniqueness. I find myself watching them and saying to myself: “Wow! That is so cool!” I don’t understand this amazing bond with my grandchildren, and I certainly can’t explain it. I just know that they have an uncanny knack for melting my heart.
My love for my grandchildren is remarkably unconditional – just like God’s love for each of us. There is nothing they have done to earn or deserve my love. They had it before they were born, and it continues to grow with every experience we share. That love just is, and there is nothing that can take it away.
If I can feel such deep love for these special ones in my life, how much more is God capable of having those feelings for us. Being a grandfather helps me trust that there are things each of us does that cause God to exclaim: “Wow! That is so cool!”
In his book Sacred Fire, Ron Rolheiser draws a sharp contrast between a blessing and a curse. He notes that “cursing is what we do when we look at someone whom we do not like and think or say: ‘I wish you weren’t here! I hate your presence! I wish you’d go away!’’ He goes on to point out that “cursing is what we do when we are confronted by the joyous screams of a child and we say: ‘Shut up! Don’t irritate me!’” Rolheiser notes that we curse when: “unlike God, we try to suppress life, deny joy its place, squelch exuberance and shame enthusiasm.”
By contrast, Rolheiser describes some of key elements of blessing others. “We bless others when we take delight in them, when we speak of them, when we feel their presence and energy as a gift rather than a threat.”
As we reflect on the story of Jesus’ Transfiguration, we are called to trust God’s voice blessing us with the assurance that we are beloved, that we are surrounded by unconditional love, and that God takes delight in us. We are called to trust the good news that we are blessed and to leave behind the toxic legacy of being cursed and cursing others.
One of Rolheiser’s ”Ten Commandments for the Long Haul” urges us to “bless more and curse less.” We are called to give up cursing others and avoid reinforcing the negative self-talk of the inner assassin in the previous reflection. As grandparents, elders, parents, teachers, supervisors, coaches and friends, we are called to bless others – expressing in clear and unequivocal words and other affirming ways that we take delight in them.
As our Lenten journey continues, we are urged to open ourselves to being blessed and to seize opportunities to bless others – honestly, sincerely and frequently.
Questions for Reflection
- In what ways have you experienced the longing to be blessed as the beloved of God, to know God takes delight in you?
- In what ways have you experienced the pain of being cursed by others?
- What opportunities will you have today – and throughout the week – to “bless more and curse less?”
Invitation to Prayer
Wonderful Creator, open my eyes to help me see others and all creation as blessed and good. Merciful Redeemer, forgive me for the ways that I curse others – negating their uniqueness and diminishing their gifts. Spirit of Love, give me the insight and courage to seek out ways to bless others by affirming their presence and celebrating their gifts – today and every day . . .