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SUNDAY SCRIPTURES FOR AUG. 6 | Rise, do not be afraid, and carry the vision of Jesus with us

This week, take some time to remember the experiences of God’s awesome wonder and power

Many things in life can knock us down. Some are shocking and difficult things to handle. A diagnosed illness or an ended relationship can bring us to our knees. Recognizing how little control we really have over our lives can shock us and make us more humble. The feast of the Transfiguration brings Peter, James and John to their knees, but not because of a difficult or negatively shocking experience. Instead, they fell to the ground because they experienced the fullness of God’s glory. Moses and Elijah, symbols of the law and the prophets, were there with Jesus, speaking with Him, whose body was transfigured and glowing brightly. Every one of us would’ve been falling to the ground and hiding our faces from such splendor.

Jesus invites Peter, James and John to get up off the ground. He asks them to carry the vision with them but not the fear. He asked them not to share the vision yet. We may wonder why He wouldn’t allow them to spread the news about the glory of God and the gift they were given. Jesus clearly understood they would misconstrue the meaning of what had happened. They needed some time to be able to integrate that experience with the rest of their lives. Only after the resurrection of Jesus and His appearance to them would they be able to make sense of it and believe as they needed to.

I invite us to take some time this week to remember the experiences of God’s awesome wonder and power in our lives. Remember the things that have taken our breath away. Remember the times that we’ve been overwhelmed in gratitude for God’s generosity. How gratuitous is God’s forgiveness to each of us! How generous is God in sharing freedom, blessings, grace and the necessary things of life with us.

Why did Jesus take Peter, James and John up the mountain to witness the Transfiguration? We don’t know for sure, but one of the reasons may have been that the three of them became very used to the wonders and miracles that Jesus was working in their presence. Maybe they had begun to take for granted the gift of His presence and power. Maybe their hearts were not filled with gratitude as they might have been at the first experiences of Jesus in their lives.

Have we noticed ways that we have become numb to the gifts and blessings that are part of our lives? Have we noticed any sense of entitlement? Have we come to believe that we have earned the blessings and that we deserve every one of them? Have we noticed that anxiety and worry about what will happen in the future has crept into our thoughts? All these attitudes of mind and heart can make us less grateful and fail to understand the power and glory of Jesus that surrounds us each and every day. If we can’t recognize it, how can we ever share it with anyone else? We become less a witness to the power of Jesus and more a witness to fear, hatred and greed.

Wherever we turn this week, we will have the opportunity to choose gratitude or cynicism. There are enough people around who are willing to offer us divisive and hateful language and behavior. There are opportunities for us to read and listen to all kinds of things that will teach us to hate and mistrust. If we feel tempted to embrace that, or if we already live that kind of life, we might want to look at the level of gratitude we are exercising right now. When Jesus asks Peter, James and John to rise and not be afraid, He asked them to carry the vision with them. What is the vision that we carry with us? Is it filled with hope and designed according to the promise of Jesus? Or is it filled with cynicism and designed according to the law of hopelessness? Rise, and do not be afraid. Carry the vision with us.

Father Donald Wester is pastor of All Saints Parish in St. Peters.

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