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This story comes right after telling them of his passion and resurrection. It seems that Jesus can tell that the disciples really haven’t gotten the whole message. They aren’t seeing all of what was said, but only the bad. Jesus is looking ahead.
Don’t want to bring down the room, but there are five weeks of Lent left. It may seem like there’s some pretty tough terrain before we make it to Easter eggs and lamb cakes. Like the disciples, we may get bogged down in the bad news. We, too, need to keep looking ahead, “seeing through” from a higher, wider perspective. In fact, the word perspective literally means to look through (or look beyond) sometime. To see past the things that are just ahead, and focus toward the ultimate end and the joy that comes. This is what Jesus provided with the mountain-top experience of the Transfiguration, and this is what we must keep our eyes fixed on as well.
Abraham also, as we see today, had to see through the day towards the stars that were to shine at night. Seriously, go back and look at the reading. It's daytime when he prepares the sacrifice and waits for hours, then finally night comes and the Lord passes over the sacrifice. God promises him descendents like the stars that are not yet visible to Abraham, just as Jesus promises glory to the disciples and to all of us even when in our lives we cannot look past the mess of our lives. And I would add, just like when there are still five weeks of Lent and we don’t see how God is growing us through these days of preparation, perhaps because He is working below the surface.
Jesus invites us to see beyond all the sin, the confusion, the mess, and the struggle. He was us to see the mysterious victory that he wishes to bring about for us and how in the Father’s plan, all things will be worked unto good. Just as the wounds on Jesus’ body become wounds of love that manifest His glory, so too does God want our stories to show forth His glory, as it indeed does in all the saints, even our patroness whose hidden life ended at 24, but really was just the beginning.
One of the things we are invited to see is that we are suppressed saints. This is a new phrase I’ve learned just this past week when reading one of the short chapters of Peter Kreeft’s work Forty Reasons I am a Catholic. He says this in chapter 27, which is two pages and is titled “because Catholics, like their saints, are a little crazy.” Which surprised me, because I never thought of it that way, but I think he’s totally right. Anyways, here’s what he wrote: What, exactly, do the saints show us about ourselves and our hearts? One things they show is that they were and we are suppressed saints. There is a “good news-bad news” doubleness to this: on the one hand, it is to our credit that in our deepest selves we love and aspire to high and holy ends, but on the other hand, it is to our blame that we suppress and ignore these aspirations and settle for far lower ones.
Saint Paul, a man who was born in an island of Greek culture, born a Roman citizen, and born a Jew, says today that we are Citizens of heaven. Paul, who forsook all those claims on his identity when he put on Christ Jesus, knew that none of this was home. Our fatherland is not made of land. Don’t forget where you are destined for, and to what God has called you. Keep your eyes ahead, looking through the trials toward the glory God will win from the trials. See who you are made to be and let Jesus bring you there. Amen.