This Sunday is the second Sunday of Lent. We get to enjoy the bewildering story of the transfiguration of Jesus on Mount Tabor. Jesus takes three of his companions, Peter, John, & James with him and they witness Jesus conversing with Moses and Elijah. To put it simply, he is holding court with the law and the prophets–two of the most important figures of the Bible for these Jewish men. They are stunned and filled with desire to build a holy site right there to commemorate what was happening. God blows into the scene as a booming cloud and tells the disciples that they need to listen to his beloved Son. The disciples fall prostrate in fear. They only get up once Jesus touches them and tells them to not be afraid. “And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone.” As they go down the mountain Jesus tells them to tell no one about what happened on the mountain.
The story of the transfiguration is fascinatingly weird. The disciples have seen the “rockstars” of their faith–Moses and Elijah. Then God speaks to them announcing that Jesus is the beloved son they need to listen to. And one of the greatest parts of the story is near the ending. While the disciples are most likely over-stimulated by hearing the voice of God and seeing Moses and Elijah it is Jesus’ touch and reassurance that brings them back to comfort. And after that touch they “saw no one else but Jesus alone.” This phrase could easily be interpreted as that the collective vision they had was gone. Or it could be that Moses, Elijah, and the voice of God were all still there, but it was only Jesus that they saw. They take God’s words of “listening” to Jesus to heart. And their attention is solely on Christ.
How often do we as faith filled people allow ourselves to shift away from focusing on Jesus? Allowing ourselves to be distracted by the stimulation of the world? We have jobs, families, social media, politics, etc. taking our time and focus. Do we make time for a God who is reaching out to touch us, reassuring us that there is nothing to fear? This author herself is very guilty of not taking time to focus on Jesus. There are days where it is hard, tiny humans and a demanding ministry schedule take up so much energy. Add in there the needs of a spouse, friendships, laundry piles, and of course the basic human needs of eating and washing. But Jesus is saying “do not be afraid.” Jesus is reaching out. I just need to turn my attention back to him. My life is certainly never worse when I turn my focus on my Lord and Savior.
Everyday is the perfect day to put our gaze on Jesus alone. But Lent is a season that invites us to really focus on Jesus and what he did for us. We are called to pray, fast, and give alms, all for the love of Jesus. As we continue through our Lenten journeys let us remember to not let the stimulating world around us take over, let us look towards Jesus alone.
Erika P. Tate, M.Div, is a director of faith formation in Chicago. She has a passion for feminist theology, scripture, and the saints.