Second Sunday in Lent Reflection
Jesus takes Peter and James, and his brother John, and privately leads them up to a high mountain by themselves. And he was changed in form before them… (Mathew 17:1-2)
Silence is the springboard to enter into solitude for meditative and contemplative prayer. St Francis wrote: “Incline the ear of your heart and listen to the voice of the Son of God.” One enters the silence precisely for this to happen… by accepting his invitation for ‘those who wish to be… in solitude’, we continue on our journey ‘crossing the Desert’ into the heart of God.
Learning to see with ‘the eye of the heart’ so as to become ‘fully human and fully divine’, the embodiment of nondual consciousness, becoming complete, enlightened, pure and holy. This is an invitation to become the image of the Exemplar, the Divine Imprint of the Christ within, opening up the new space that leads to freedom and love, and that peace the world cannot give.
We are given a choice. This is an invitation to gain a new perspective, an opportunity to metanoia, to grasp that inner truth, that inner reality of who we are and to fully appreciate all our inner gifts as well as our current ‘growing edges’, and how we are to live. This is an invitation to transform and to be transfigured reflecting that beautiful inner space for ourselves that we are called to share with others.
This choice we are given is also a call to action, a call to let go of what is captured our hearts, preoccupies us unnecessarily and has made us insecure and anxious. Beyond insight and spiritual maturity, our foundation must be humility. This is the wisdom that recognises that the light is within us, stands in awe, yet recognises that we are not the source of that light.
It is only by this process of kenosis, emptying ourselves that we come to understand that our learning must begin again. Without this humility our sense of perspective will always be skewed, and our gratitude subverted beneath entitlement. It is with this humility that our knowledge becomes transformed into wisdom and the ability to differentiate between unnecessary suffering and that pain that must always accompany transformation. This is the wisdom to face and understand all our worldly defences and avoidance strategies against pain; all that has become a block to our transformation and Transfiguration.
As Jesus was accompanied by trusted friends and as St Francis admonished his followers, we also require a trusted circle of friends to hold up the mirror that reflects who we are and who we are becoming.
Robert Wicks supplies us with a list of those beautiful spaces in our inner life that humility dramatically opens for us:
- space of simplicity and with the complex demands of both home and office;
- space for solitude to listen to the messages of our quiet spirit lest they be drowned out by the days noise;
- a space for pacing ourselves while resisting the lure of speed and new technology;
- space for gratefulness and giftedness in a world filled with the sense of entitlement;
- space for honesty and clarity rather than spinning the truth to our own advantage;
- space for the old relationships in place of mere manipulation of others;
- space for restraint instead of instant gratification and aggression;
- space for doubt and deeper questions rather than filling ourselves with false certainty and pat answers;
- space for reflection so that compassion doesn’t lead to undisciplined activism;
- space for generosity where previously only strident self-interest stood;
- space for transparency where opaque defensiveness is our normal rule;
- space for sound self-respect in lieu of inordinate self-doubt or unbridled self-assurance;
- space for intrigue or curiosity about our actions and motivations so we don’t wander down the blind alleys of projection or self-condemnation;
- space for forgiveness so we don’t fall prey to rigidity and self-righteousness;
- space for what will always be true rather than solely having an interest in what is currently in vogue; and
- space for the courage needed to be ordinary instead of wasting all our time chasing after what we believe will make us someone special.
Before any canon of Scripture was established, the early church depended on the oral tradition the sayings of Jesus. The desert fathers and the desert mothers who followed Jesus crossing the desert, have also given us a rich tradition of sayings that can accompany us on our own journey.
The brothers in Scetis once met and began to discuss Melchizedek the priest, but they forgot to ask Copres to come. Later, they summoned him and asked him what he thought about the question. He struck his mouth three times and said, ‘Alas for you, Copres. You have left undone what God commanded you to do, and you have dared to inquire into things that he did not ask of you.’ At these words the brothers scattered, each to his own cell.
A hermit was asked, ‘What is humility?’ He answered, ‘Humility is a great work, and a work of God. The way of humility is to undertake bodily labour, and believe yourself a sinner, and make yourself the servant of all.’ A brother said, ‘What does it mean, to be the servant of all?’ He answered, ‘To be the servant of all is not to look at the sins of others, always to look at your own sins, and to pray to God without ceasing.’