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Rector's Reflection: Enlightened, February 10, 2024


Beloved Members of St. Martin’s,

 

In the reading from 2 Corinthians that we will hear this Sunday, we will hear Paul talk about the things that keep us from seeing the gospel as it really is. Paul points out that if we focus on the “god of this world,” we are unable to perceive to see God in unexpected places, or to see the gospel with clarity. Instead, our perception is “veiled.”

 

Perhaps Paul is too generous to make the “god of this world” singular. Power, status, self-righteousness, money, material possessions, fame, greed, entertainment—all of these things we may worship, as we offer them the priority for our attention, our time, and our striving.

 

There are so many gods we focus upon and elevate that we think will take the place in our hearts that belongs to God. One thing is certain: the gods of this world reign by being easily perceptible all around us, while many complain that they do not see signs of the true God anywhere. Once again, depends upon what you are looking for, and where you focus your attention.

 

As we prepare to enter into Lent, we are encouraged to expand our perception. We end the season after Epiphany each year with stories of transfiguration to give us the courage to allow our eyes to adjust to the seeing of who Jesus REALLY is in our lives, much like those disciples who witness his transfiguration in our gospel.

 

Too often we seem to expect a bearded man, wearing a loose linen tunic, sandals, gorgeously-tressed hair. We fail to perceive him in other guises: the frazzled dad working three jobs to help put food on the table; the teenager hungry for someone to take her under their wing and counter the story she hears at home about being ugly inside and out; the neighbor with whom we have been feuding for so long we no longer remember why; the panhandler on the corner other folks sneer at for having a cell phone.

 

But the point of the Transfiguration is not to focus on how Jesus has been “changed.” Rather, the Transfiguration is about how our perception of Jesus has been unveiled to reveal who he truly is. What if we looked upon his transfigured self, and realize that the veil has been pulled back: Jesus reveals just a tiny bit of who he really is: the glory and Word of God made flesh and connecting heaven and earth.

 

Once we perceive that, it is we who have been changed—and enlightened. In a year when even the everyday and commonplace has sometimes become a struggle, we may not perceive the ways in which the Christ-light has been revealed to us, much less within us.

 

The season of Epiphany is about drawing back the veil and joyfully encouraging us to see God’s presence everywhere and for everyone. Jesus’s transfiguration calls us to embrace our own, so that we ourselves may perceive that that same glory and light resides within each of us. As Jesus transfigures us, he urges us to leave behind the gods of this world. “Come, follow me. Be the light you need to see within the world.”

 

In Christ,

 

Mother Leslie+

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