Weekend Reflections for 3/10/17
Jesus’ Transfiguration and Our Own
Edward B. “Ted” Arroyo, S.J.
At this time of the church year, many of us address the question: what am I doing for lent, or what are we in this parish/community doing for lent? Each year on the 2nd Sunday of Lent the Gospel (Matt 17:1-8, Mark 9: 2-8, Luke 9: 28-36) invites us to witness Jesus’ transfiguration and listen to him. So the question is not so much what we are going to do for lent as “how are we going to LISTEN?” this lent.
At White House Jesuit Retreat we have a long tradition, almost 100 years of such listening to God especially through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Although we always welcome new “first timers” on every retreat, we also take the time to acknowledge and celebrate “repeat offenders” who have made the Ignatian exercises with us many times.
It seems that in today’s transfiguration gospel, Jesus’s human appearance was changed into immortal diamond, as Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins put it:
In a flash, at a trumpet crash,
I am all at once what Christ is, ' since he was what I am, and
This Jack, joke, poor potsherd, ' patch, matchwood, immortal diamond,
Is immortal diamond. [i]
But even so, after the Transfiguration Jesus descended from the mountain with his disciples, once again “poor potsherd, patch, matchwood” and continued his earthly pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Even though, as Ignatius puts it, “his divinity shone through” the Transfiguration, he still had many more steps to take in his human journey to cross and resurrection.
What about US?
Whether we are first timers in the Spiritual Exercises, or Golden Jubilarians, each year we return to our “mountain top” on Christopher Drive for 60 more quiet hours of listening, discerning like Jesus did in the desert, the next stages of God’s gracious calls in our matchwood journeys toward becoming immortal diamonds.
These exercises are all about listening, as the voice came out of the Transfiguration cloud and commanded. This is why we stress the importance of personal quiet and silence for your 60 hours on the mountaintop.
After your 60 hours of listening here at White House, the Ignatian Awareness Examen: How Busy Persons Find God in All Things[ii] is a “take home” we can always “pass” through to prepare for our Passovers at the end of this lent and at the end of our potsherd lives.
And, if we enter fully into this listening, this may be all that we have to “do” for wisdom and guidance on the next steps of our journeys toward our diamond jubilees.
[i] Source/Notes: That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire and of the Comfort of the Resurrection, lines 22-24 - Wessex Poems and Other Verses (1918)
[ii] See, for example, the version we offer on pp 43-45 of the White House Retreatants’ prayer book.