Friday, September 19, 2008

Just a Stretch of the Legs

Praying the Rosary on the way into work, something new caught my attention about Jesus' Transfiguration. You probably remember the event: While Jesus was at prayer on a mountaintop, Peter, James, and John witnessed Jesus become "more brilliant than the sun." Moses and Elijah appeared to Jesus, and the disciples could hear them discussing His "exodus." The scene culminated with a cloud overshadowing the mountain (as the Shekinah, or cloud of God's glory, had when Moses received the Law on Mount Sinai) and God the Father proclaiming, "This is My Beloved Son, listen to Him."

The new data that registered with me is actually preliminary to everything I just recounted: before the Apostles witnessed this, they had climbed a mountain! Traditionally, Mt. Tabor, pictured here, has been identified as the spot. (That little white dot at the top is a church, if that gives a better idea of the size.) I'm thinking that they had to exert themselves a bit to "get into position" for the Transfiguration.

And that got me thinking some about the energy we have to exert in our own lives. To make progress as Christians we have to work. God may have given us a new nature, but that doesn't mean its "second nature" yet.
Seriously though, think about your day so far. How many things can you think of that make you say, "Lord, I shouldn't have said that," or "I wish I'd done that?" I can sure think of a few. There's no reason to get disheartened though. When the Apostles were climbing that mountain they had to exert themselves...but Jesus was right there alongside them. The Lord was exerting Himself, as they were exerting themselves. And the same is true for us. We have to do the work, we have to make an honest, concentrated effort; but Jesus is right there alongside us - and thanks to His resurrection and ascension, in us - working to get us to that next level. Without Him its impossible; but with Him, there are no limits.

This is what the Church is talking about when it says that final salvation is the result of Faith and Works. We become the kind of creatures that can exist in Heaven because we've actively cooperated with God's activity within and through us. Maybe it's not appropriate to talk about Faith and Works as two separate activities; it's really one fluid movement, beginning in God. I may start using the term "faithwork" to describe it. Check out how the Apostle Paul spoke of it: " out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13). It's 100% God and, because of Grace and the Gift of the Holy Spirit, 100% us too! 
And like the Apostles, embracing Jesus' desire to get us to the "top of the mountain," leads to incredible realities. Like them, we get to pray alongside Jesus. And because of that, our prayer will change, will become more mature, will focus upon God's will instead of ours. We get to hear Moses (the Law) and Elijah (the Prophets) of the Old Covenant speaking to us as we study Scripture. Divine Light enables us to see things about ourselves and our situation that would have been impossible before.

And this pattern will be repeated again and again in our lives, as Jesus challenges us to follow Him from one peak to the next - until we're as high as we can possibly go. (They don't call it "Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem" for nothing [Hebrews 12:22].)

No comments:

Post a Comment