Saturday, February 23, 2013

Pass over to greater realities

2nd Sunday of Lent Year B
24 February 2013
St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center at the University of Kansas
Daily Readings

To borrow another metaphor from KU basketball, when the crowd gets wrapped into a frenzy in the Fieldhouse, it's like an out-of-body experience.  It's almost like a drug.  It's entering into a new reality.  There is a loss of control.  Passion takes over, and you enter into a new dimension of human experience.  It's pandemonium.  It's fun.  You feel like you're in a place you've never been before.

We are wired sexually to enter into a new dimension of human experience as well.  So powerful is this wiring, that it alters human experience in even more profound and permanent ways than drugs do.  There is once again passion and a loss of control.  The sexual experience is a fire that can create amazing good and fruitfulness if channeled in the right way, and incredible damage in the wrong circumstances.

Our experience of Mass can also be a passing over from the ordinary to the extraordinary, from the real to the more real.  Going to Mass can be like exiting the matrix of ordinary life, and waking up to a reality that is always there but one that we are not always aware of.  Certainly for the priest saying the Mass, the Holy Spirit makes available the reality of the Lord's words and presence in ways that the priest himself doesn't normally experience.  There is a waking up, a super-reality, that is mysteriously entered into.

Lent is not about making slight adjustments in our lives with the final goal being self-improvement.  No, it is waking up to greater realities.  We all vacillate between being asleep and waking up.  We go back and forth between experiences of the super-real, which when they happen cannot be doubted, and the daily grind, which when we are in the middle of it, seems more real, and causes us to doubt our experiences of more.

Just as we once passed over from our mother's womb into the light and drama and greater reality of this world, so also for the Christian there remains another passing over, from the sleepiness of our daily experience to the glory foreshadowed by the Transfiguration.  This passing over can take many forms - committing to the things we are passionate about, the things that get us outside of ourselves.  It comes from trusting the inspirations of the Holy Spirit that are beyond reason but are not for that reason any less true.

Most of all, however, for the Christian, this passing over takes place through prayer.  Jesus takes Peter, James and John up the mountain because it is there, from a high spot, that we are able to see more.  Prayer is always a greater seeing, because it is allowing God to give us his vision.  Prayer is always a waking up from less to more, by asking ourselves what is most real, most necessary and most eternal, and then listening for the answer.  Christianity is impossible without prayer.  Without it, we will always settle for less, and allow the less real to become our ultimate reality.

The Transfiguration shows us that the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus is not just something that happened temporally at the end of his life, after his work was done.  Jesus' passing over from this world to the Father was something he was always doing. It was made manifest at the end, but also in the middle.  This is a great lesson for the three blessed apostles.  They learned on the mountain that the passing over from less to more is not something just for later, it is something to be rehearsed, something to be experienced even now.

They learned as well that this passing over is accomplished most of all through prayer.  Lacking the faith demonstrated by Abraham, Peter and James and John fear this change, this passing over, this death to self.  Desperately seeking control of the situation, a way to manage it to fit their readiness, they neglect prayer and come up with no better idea than to build three tents.  Yet Jesus tells them the key for passing over, the key to entering into the greater reality, is nothing more but nothing less than prayer. The three are told instead to listen to him.  The ideas was not to capture the Transfiguration, but letting that experience give us the greater confidence in the greater coming of the Holy Spirit, which will teach us how to listen to Him.  It is in listening to him, that we are transfigured not from the outside in, but from the inside out.  Amen.

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