Change! Change!! Change!!! This is the usual political mantra that characterises the manifestos of most opposing parties in relation to any ruling party. In 2008, Barack Obama came up with the democratic challenge: “Yes We Can!” While proposing a CHANGE from the redundancy of the Republicans. The phenomenon of change was not strange during the 2015 general election in Nigeria. Very often, most people welcomed change as an imaginary ladder that will help them to climb into a glorious future free from all the contending ills but they still remain unchanged from their inglorious attitudes. For change to happen we must be ready to change!
Change is not a phenomenon we ought to force; change comes when the right things are put in their right places. Change should start from all who desire change; and it basically starts from the mind. Furthermore, change is constant. To change positively means to assume a new position. To change positively is to make allowance for a new reality. This period is ripe enough for us to advance towards positive changes in our lives. We must bear in mind that change can actually be negative or positive. Today we are concerned with positive change which can also be rendered as a transition from disfiguration to transfiguration.
In the First Reading (Gen. 15:1-12;17-18), we are told about God’s dramatic interaction with Abram (who later became Abraham). After listening to God’s instructions, Abram was asked to undertake a transitional change of position from where he was (Ur of the Chaldeans) to a new place where he will be blessed. Upon this development, God had a covenant with him to prosper him and enlarge his heritage and posterity to be as numerous as the stars on the sky.
From the encounter between Abram and God, we understand that God’s ways are entirely different from ours. For God, there is a location for every blessing. God expects a change from us before He can effect a change for us. If Abram had remained in the Ur of the Chaldeans, he would have missed the divine multiplication and enlargement that followed him later in life. Furthermore, he would have remained Abram and never Abraham. We are also connected with this same experience. If we listen to God and undertake a deep change in our lives especially during this season of lent, then we can expect the same blessings of divine enlargement that Abraham had.
The Gospel of today (Luke 9:28-36) introduces us to the luminous mystery of Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ before three of his apostles: Peter, James and John. We have so many lessons from the transfiguration event. In the first place, the transfiguration took place on a high mountain. This is a far-fetched location. To this effect, our Lord and the witnesses of the transfiguration had to climb the mountain in question. The climbing of the mountain is a pointer to a drastic change of position. They left the bandwagon and noisy crowd at the foot of the mountain and moved up to the quiet and serene location on the mountain top. They moved away from the disfiguration that characterizes the foot of the mountain and moved up to the transfiguration that beautifies the mountain top. In all, they changed their position from a lower range of disconnection to a higher range of divine connection.
The Lenten period can be seen allegorically as representing a forty-day period of climbing a spiritual mountain. It is expected that every mountain climber should have less load to make the climbing easier. It is based upon this that we are expected to practice charity which involves giving up our possessions as well as fasting and abstinence. Furthermore every mountain climber is expected to look up and be focused on the goal; that is getting to the peak. This is also related to the attitude of prayer which involves looking up and focusing on God who will be waiting for us on top of the mountain where we shall have a fruitful and life changing encounter (Isaiah 25:6-7).
On reaching the peak of the mountain, our Lord Jesus Christ and his “transfiguration companions” did not resort to playing games nor mere sight seeing. They went there to pray and it was in the mood of prayer that the transfiguration took place. It is very important to note that God’s presence cannot break upon us when we are involved in things that are unconnected with Him. It is only at those points of divine encounter that we can experience deep-seated changes. Shadrach Meshach and Abednego were saved from the burning furnace because they were in communication with God (Daniel 3). The blind Bartimaeus regained his sight after making an appeal to the source of healing: “Jesus Son of David have mercy on me” (Mark 10:46-52). Paul and Silas got amazing divine intervention inside the cell of a prison when they prayed and sang unto God (Acts 16:25-26).
During the event of the transfiguration, we are told that there was a phenomenal change involving the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ: his face and his clothes became dazzlingly white. Thereafter there was the celestial presence of Moses and Elijah and the gracious voice of God the Father confirming Jesus as the most beloved in whom He is well pleased. There are indeed many elements in this narrative however we are concerned here with the transfiguration proper which details the needed change in our lives.
From the narrative, we can identify one common denominator and that is CHANGE. They moved from the foot of the mountain to the top of the mountain: location change. They also moved away from the noisy area to a quiet and reflective zone: mental change. Next there was a change in the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ from how he looked to a new reality: phenomenal change. Furthermore there was a change from mere earthly interaction and communication to celestial interaction which was concluded by the clear sound voice of God the father: spiritual change.
This season of Lenten is most fitting to be called a time for our transfiguration. We are all called from the beginning of the season by the prophet Joel (2:12-16) to activate a change of position from the region of sin to nearness to God. In the prophecy of Isaiah we are also told to change our position by seeking God when He can be found, to call him when He can hear us and also to forsake wicked ways, unrighteous thoughts and return to God to gain His mercy (Isaiah 55:6-8). There Lenten season will make no sense if we choose to wish for change and remain unchanged. If we look back from Ash Wednesday to this point and nothing positive has changed in our lives, then we are most needful of a transfiguration in our lives. If we remain unchanged nothing may change for us. We cannot get what we cannot give and we cannot be doing the same thing the same way all the time and expect a different result.
There must be an active human action before a corresponding divine response. We need to change our position by following God’s instructions that is meant to take us to where His grace will be sufficient for us. We should not expect God to be awesome for us while we remain worrisome to Him. We need to ask ourselves if we are making any serious effort this season of Lent to change our positions from disobedience to obedience, from darkness to light, from destruction to reconstruction and from disfigured selves to transfigured beings.
The message of the transfiguration could not have come any other time than now. We are called to climb the mountain with the Lord. We are called to leave the distraction and attractions at the foot of the mountain. We are called to look up to the mountain of transfiguration. We called to climb by giving up all those thing that deter our upward motion. We are called to dispose ourselves for change so that God can change our story from nothingness to something-else. The time to do all these is now!
Do have a renewing Second Sunday of Lent. Remember that you need to make a change for to you to experience a change in your life. Do not give up! Remain steadfast to the call of the season: Look up, give up, take up and lift up!