Have you ever thought about what it takes to remain faithful to God? I don’t mean just the obvious things like don’t kill, don’t steal and don’t lie. I mean things like loving our enemies and doing good to those who hate us. I mean seeing every other person as a sister or brother and not as an object or someone less. What might it take for us to be faithful to those ways that God asks us to live?
The Gospel reading for the second Sunday of Lent is always about Jesus’ Transfiguration on the mountaintop. He takes Peter, James and John with Him and shows them the glory of God. They experience Jesus as the fullness of the law and the prophets, as He is accompanied by Moses and Elijah. They are so overcome by glory and power that they fall to their knees and hide their faces. They stammer and don’t quite know what to do with such a strong experience of God’s wonder and might. Yet when they are given a chance to be faithful to Jesus when things get tough, they denied Him. They walked with Him and listened to His teachings; they witnessed His miracles and shared fellowship with Him. You’d think that that would be enough for them to be faithful to Him until the end. But it wasn’t.
That is what happened in history, but let’s get back to us. Each of us has experienced God’s glory, wonder and power. Our lives are blessed with abundance, and yet we find it difficult to be faithful to God in the most costly situations. We know the promises God has given to us, and we have experienced God’s faithfulness even when we didn’t deserve it. Throughout our lives, we’ve been given what we needed and more. But when things get uncomfortable and inconvenient, when things don’t go our way or somebody challenges us in our beliefs, our evil is portrayed in our words and actions. It would seem that we would’ve had enough experience of God’s faithfulness to last us through even the most difficult of times.
Could it be that we only notice God’s presence in the superlatives of life? Must God’s presence to us always be in power and might? This Lenten season gives us an opportunity to walk through our ordinary daily lives and notice the presence of God in subtle and quiet ways. If we are truly emptying ourselves, centering some quality time in prayer and being generous with the resources that we have, there should be a hunger and longing within each of us. If we allow ourselves to be led into the desert as Jesus was, we’d thirst for God in the midst of that emptiness, and God would be with us. We would not need to quiet the thirst by numbing ourselves with meaningless activities or possessions. We could, in the quiet time, experience the safety and security of God’s love, even when we are feeling insecure and uncertain.
I hope that it doesn’t take a disaster for us to be awakened to the power of God in our lives right now. Let us take the time to practice noticing how God is moving within us. In the quiet moments, when all you can hear is your own breathing, allow that quiet to be filled with what is truly real. God is with you. God loves you. God will always be faithful to you. Let those truths and promises push away the false securities that you count on. Let the real presence of God be enough for you to live a full and abundant life. Let us learn to live in the ordinary breaths of life and not so much on the superlatives.
Father Wester is pastor of All Saints Parish in St. Peters.