“Jesus took Peter, James and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them…They kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.”
The older I get the less logical I become, and I am so proud of myself. I think logical people are very boring people. They always think they know the punch line.
We all love a surprise. I think it is because we were created in the image and likeness of God who is full of surprises: good and bad surprises. But in reality, I know I can honestly say that God is full of only good surprises – it’s just that sometimes we have to wait many years to hear the punch line or turn on the lights and say “Surprise!” or blow out the candles.
I was a bit surprised when my first assignment as a Diocesan priest was at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church out in Richardson. But I was even more surprised when a police officer pulled me over the very first time I drove out there. What surprised me even more was learning how low the speed limit was on Jupiter Rd! When the officer came over to my car, I immediately told him, “Officer, I am so sorry but I am running late for Mass. I need to get to the Church as quickly as possible.” He looked at me and said, “You’re running late sir?” I said, “Yes, Officer.” He told me, “Ok…then I will write your ticket quickly.” Right then and there I knew he was a Baptist.
A while back, while I was on a flight, I struck up a conversation with a young Jewish woman. We were talking and talking about superficial things when she suddenly changed subjects on me and told me that she no longer practices her faith or any religion. I asked her why. The answer is all related to today’s first reading from the Book of Genesis (Gen 22:1-18).
“God put Abraham to the test.” This young woman was furious with God! She said, “How can a loving God do what he did to poor Abraham? I mean, He told Abraham ‘Do you love me? Prove it. Kill your son so that I know you love me more!’ How disgusting is that! How could God joke around like that?”
She had a point. But I was just as blunt as she was. I told her, “For me, the story of Abraham and Isaac is the most beautiful story in the Old Testament. The problem is: you didn’t wait for the punch-line. It came and went, but it can still be found in the New Testament.
“Take your son, your only son, whom you love, and sacrifice him for me...” I am sure these words were like a dagger in Abraham’s heart. The amazing thing about all of this is the fact that Abraham did not rebel or curse God. In fact, he remained silent. Why? Because Abraham knew that his Father loved him.
“The next morning, Abraham took his son and they went up the mountain…” Going up the mountain was Abraham and Isaac, father and son. Abraham was carrying a lighted lantern. But in reality, going up the mountain was The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. Little Isaac carried chunks of wood for his own sacrifice like Christ carried his Cross for his own sacrifice. Isaac asked his father, “Daddy, where is the animal for the sacrifice?” Abraham’s reply was instinctive and very providential: “Don’t worry son, God will provide.” Little did he know how true his words would one day be.
“Do not lay a hand on your son.” Overwhelmed with joy, Abraham must not have noticed the Lord’s voice shaking. No, Abraham, you will never have to sacrifice your son, your only son, the son you love with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. You don’t have to do it. I will do it. I will sacrifice my beloved Son, my only Son, the Son I love with all my heart. I will sacrifice Him for you; for all of you.
That is the punch line! A punch right in The Father's heart.
Jesus took Peter, James and John and led them up a high mountain. They were surprised at what they saw. Allow the Lord to surprise you too! You don't have to cheat, lie or steal to write your own ending! Things don't always have to go your way. You don't have to shove your storyline down God's throat, especially when it comes to boyfriends and girlfriends and your very own life! How boring! How insulting! Allow the Lord to surprise you! Allow Him to wash your feet, give you a cross and change your life. The Apostles didn’t know what rising from the dead meant. They would soon find out. SURPRISE!!!
I don’t have to drive 65 mph in a 40 mph zone. I don’t have to be so logical and boring. I don’t have to replace God’s punch line with my own! I don't have to run away or hide from God's surprise party for me. I don’t have to ruin all His surprises by being so sinful or so practical and logical.
Heavenly Father, your Son transfigured himself to reveal his true identity and radiance. Help transform us, we pray, into the image and likeness of your Son, surprising all who are around us.
The Lord has given us 40 days and 40 nights not to become more practical or logical but to be more loveable and faithful.