Second Sunday of Lent
If Love Between Both Sides Can Last Forever
First Reading :( Gen 12:1-4 ) : Abraham was called
Second Reading : (2 Tim:1:8-10 ) : God's call will enlighten us
Gospel : ( Mt 17:1-9) ) : Jesus' Transfiguration
“Clouds sail like works of art, Stars shoot with grief at heart, Across the Milky Way the Cowherd meets the Maid. When Autumn's Golden Wind embraces Dew of Jade, All the love scenes on earth, however many, fade.” (1)
The Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. (Gen 12:1 )
“Leave your ancestral home and go to the place I have pointed out to you.” This is faith. To have faith means that we have chosen God, chosen to take the path God wills for us and live according to God’s will. In more concrete terms, today we have chosen Christ.
“This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” This is what God said when Jesus was transfigured on the mountain. To believe in Jesus we must obey him.
Jesus lived on earth for thirty-three years, the last three years of which were his ‘Public Life’. During his public life Jesus preached and performed miracles. Gradually a great multitude of people believed in him; some even acknowledged that he was the Son of God. But Jesus knew that his own journey would not be a smooth one, proceeding straight ahead. After a while he would come down from the mountain, be betrayed and crucified on the cross like a poor prisoner, a pitiable slave. At that time, would those who had believed in him maintain their faith in him? Who would want to follow a criminal who had been nailed to a cross?
To help people have faith in this “crucified criminal,” Jesus chose three of his disciples to first show them clearly who he really was. Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him...(Mt Chap 17)....
“While Peter was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!’ When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Get up and do not be afraid.’ And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.”
“As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, ‘Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” (ref. Mt 17:1-9)
The path that Jesus took was the path of the cross. a path of pain, even of failure. It was a path that led to success. There was success in Jesus' failure, and resurrection and life in his death.
But it is hard to believe and understand this. Until we have actually experienced the divinity of Jesus and have actually been united with Jesus, it is hard to accept Jesus' words and follow his path.
Only if we have a true experience of Jesus can we walk Jesus' long arduous journey.
Qin Guan of the Sung Dynasty wrote a poem entitled “Immortals at the Magpie Bridge”, which was about the Cowboy and the Spinning Maid. In this Chinese legend, the Cowboy and the Spinning Maid could only meet once a year. Most of us would consider their plight a sad one. However, Qin Guan did not see it as such. He wrote: “Clouds sail like works of art; Stars shoot with grief at heart. Across the Milky Way the Cowherd meets the Maid. When Autumn's Golden Wind embraces Dew of Jade, All the love scenes on earth, however many, fade. Their tender love flows like a stream; This happy date seems but a dream. How can they bear a separate homeward way? But If love between both sides can last for ever, Why need they stay together night and day?” (1)
In our experience, real life is full of brokenness and regret. The life we see only moves towards death. But for the Cowherd and the Spinning Maid, “When Autumn's Golden Wind (the young man embraces Dew of Jade (the young lady), All the love scenes on earth, however many, fade.” They met only once a year but their reunion far surpassed the daily meetings of earthly lovers. “If love between both sides can last for ever, Why need they stay together night and day?” If there is true love and mutual trust, why must lovers need to see each other morning, noon and night?
If we place our trust in God and have the experience of meeting God, it is not necessary for God to support and hold us in His arms all the time.
Although in fact God is holding us in the palm of his hands, loving and leading us, this is not our usual feeling. In this world, we are still subject to temptation and cannot yet see God face to face. But if once, through our faith, we experience the vitality of God's life and presence, perhaps when we receive Holy Communion or go to confession, or during a retreat, or have a sudden internal experience of God, such an experience is sufficient to carry us through life's struggles.
For the three disciples Peter, James and John, this single experience of God's presence and witnessing of the Transfiguration of Christ, supported them in their struggle for Christ throughout their entire lives.
Tradition says that when, at the end of his life Peter was crucified on the cross he asked that his cross be turned upside-down. He said to his executioners, ‘I am not worthy to die in the same manner as Christ.’ What inspired the disciples to so willingly die for Jesus? It was because they had had the experience of such intimacy with Jesus.
Friends, let us throughout our lives look for these experiences of intimacy with Christ, the deep experience of meeting Christ. Such experiences will help and support us during our entire lives. Throughout this life of misery, such experiences will become the source of our strength.