2nd Sunday of Lent ( A ) 2020
There is a link between Knock and the Transfiguration. It might sound an odd thing to say but both have to do with light. It is a privilege to be here in Knock where many years ago several people saw a vision of Mary, Joseph, John the evangelist and the Lamb of God. Even though it was raining at the time, and hasn’t stopped, they figures were bathed in light. And the seers waited in the rain for two hours until the vision disappeared.
At the Transfiguration it wasn’t raining but there was a similar bright light. The gospel writer describes how Jesus face ‘shone like the sun and his clothes became as bright as the light’. No wonder the three disciples were mesmerized as were the Knock visionaries: this isn’t something you see every day. It’s Peter, speaking for the others, who says to Jesus “it is wonderful to be here; if you wish I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ I suspect that the Knock visionaries would have stayed a lot longer too had the vision not disappeared. Similarly, you remember how Bernadette of Lourdes went back time and again to the Grotto. It was wonderful to be there.
Jesus doesn’t take up Peter’s offer. He wanted to build three tents. A tent is what you construct when you intend to stay somewhere. Peter and the other disciples were happy to be there; they were more than happy, they were out of their minds with happiness. This was heaven on earth. No wonder they wanted to stay there. But Jesus takes them down the mountain. He didn’t want them to stay on the mountain top but to return to the market place, in other words to the real world. Another way of describing this is to say: Jesus took them out of their comfort zone.
There’s an even better example of leaving your comfort zone in the first reading; God tells Abraham to leave his country, family and go to a far-away place he didn’t know. I don’t know if any of you have lived in far-away places but it can be a challenging experience. You don’t know the language and for the first months you speak like a child, it’s humiliating; the food is different, customs are different. All your family and friends are so far away. You can feel terribly lonely at times. But what does God tell Abraham in order to encourage him to say “yes”; He tells Abraham; “I will bless you and make your name famous… All the tribes of the earth shall bless themselves by you.” So Abraham has a choice, remain in his comfort zone and do good work, or go out of his comfort zone and do extraordinary things for God.
In life God sometimes asks us to step outside our comfort zones. Like the 3 disciples on the mountain, like Abraham, it isn’t easy to say “yes” to God. If it was easy then more people would do it. Abraham could have said to God: “I’m not very well. I’ve got a doctor’s certificate to prove it.” Or, “why are you asking me? Why not ask someone else; I’m too old to be doing such a thing. Besides, God, you ask anyone and they’ll tell you I’m doing a good job here, so why take me away from it”. Abraham could have said these things but he didn’t. He put his faith in God and stepped out of his comfort zone and as a result achieved greatness.
There is a temptation in life to remain where we feel most comfortable. Peter, James and John wanted to remain on the mountain: “Jesus, we are happy here. We’ll stay if you don’t mind. Thanks very much. Give our regards to the folks back home”. But Jesus challenges them to come down the mountain and back into the market place, into the real world. As a result they became saints; they became the pillars of the Church.
Jesus calls each and every one of us to greatness, to holiness: it’s not the preserve of St Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, or Therese of Lisieux. But in order to achieve this we shall have to leave our comfort zones. It won’t be like Abraham, to go to a foreign land. It usually isn’t anything so dramatic. No, God isn’t like that. But He does challenge us to grow. Wasn’t it Saint John Henry Newman who said “to change is to grow and to become perfect is to have changed often”. We were called to Carmel to change; to become what God wants us to be, which is far greater then we can imagine. We were called to do great things for the Church and the world.