Let me start with a highly personal question. Does anyone here wear varifocals? I do! Varifocals, of course, help those who wear them, with their short and long sightedness.
In the account of the Transfiguration, Peter doesn’t see things clearly. He ‘should have gone to Spec Savers!’ We too should make sure we go the spiritual equivalent of Spec Savers so we can see things clearly. If we don’t see and perceive Jesus clearly our vision will become so blurred that in the words of St. Paul all we will see is ‘the god of this world,’ whose objective is to ‘blind minds,’ and turn us into ‘unbelievers.’
The season of Lent, which we are about to enter into, and the story of the Transfiguration invite us to sharpen our spiritual vision and the only way we can do this is by looking at Jesus. The Transfiguration shows us Jesus in all his glory. We hear that ‘his clothes became dazzling white, such as no-one on earth could bleach them.’ Of course in the fullness of time the powers and authorities are to do the very worst by Jesus; they are to crucify him. But, as we know Jesus is to rise again proving that ‘no one on earth could bleach,’ him.
The Transfiguration invites us to reflect on Jesus divinity, his glory, his power to overcome darkness, to shine into, through and beyond the darkness of this life.
The story of the Transfiguration also invites us to consider the possibility that Jesus trumps all that has gone before and all that will come on the future. In the story it is Jesus that shines, Elijah and Elisha are presumably wearing ordinary prophet clothes! And yet Peter can’t quite see what is before his eyes. He can’t see that Jesus is divine, and that he is the ‘fulfilment of the law and the prophets.’ Poor chap; he should have gone to Spec Savers, for what he hasn’t as yet learnt to see is either that which is right under his nose, the fully divine yet fully human Jesus, or the Jesus of eternal life. For Peter, the Transfiguration will only make sense in the light of the resurrection. We, unlike Peter, have been given a pair of specs that allow us to see the whole story in one go.
Like Peter we must learn to see Jesus as both the ‘God of this world,’ and the God of eternal life, and this is no easy task. But, we have the gift of Lent, which starts this Wednesday to help us.
In Lent we are asked to reflect on the state of our own hearts, but we can’t do so properly without also looking to Jesus and giving ourselves to Jesus. Jesus must become the inhabitant and sanctifier of our hearts. So yes, we need to self-reflect during Lent, but we need to do so in the radiant presence of Jesus. If we are prepared to do so then we can be assured of three things: first, Jesus will become for us ‘the God of this world.’ Secondly, and consequentially, in the wonderful words of one of the BCP night collects we will become ‘children of light;,’ ‘illuminated…….. With celestial brightness.’ We too will in some ways be changed even transfigured! Others will see us as people who point the way to the ultimate truth: Jesus. Thirdly, our hope and faith in our eternal destiny will grow. We will be granted the gift of a really long range, eternal and, heavenly perspective.
As I said last week I know of only three ways to deepen our life of faith and to sharpen our spiritual vision: prayer, scripture and the sacraments. So to help you through your Lent journey I thought I would write a short form of daily meditative prayer, please do take one away with you and use it during this season of Lent as a spiritual equivalent of going to Spec Savers, Amen.