I was marveling the other day that Lent is just around the corner. Isn’t that amazing? It seems like yesterday we were dressing this chapel liturgically in blue for Advent, in excited anticipation of Christmas. Now, Epiphany is almost over and I’m getting a little panicky…..because I haven’t had one yet. Maybe you can relate. Have you had an epiphany during this church season of Epiphany?
According to the Merriam Webster dictionary an epiphany is: a moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way. In the church, Epiphany is a season beginning on January 6th when we celebrate Christ being made manifest to the world through the coming of the Magi to Bethlehem (epiphany, from the Greek, literally meaning manifestation).In today’s gospel lesson it seems like everyone is having an epiphany! The gospel writer of Mark tells us that Jesus takes Peter, James, and John with him high upon a mountain where they can be by themselves and something unexpected happens: Jesus is transfigured before them, his clothes become dazzling white and Moses and Elijah appear and begin speaking to him. We are not privy to their conversation, but their presence with Jesus infers a sort spiritual debriefing session; Moses and Elijah, representing the Law and the Prophets, are said to have conversed with God directly in their lifetimes. This scene is epiphany for Jesus who is learning more about what his role as the long awaited Messiah will entail. His mission is gaining clarity.
This scene is epiphany for the disciples because they experience something in Jesus that they have not seen before. Have you ever noticed something quite unexpectedly in a friend or colleague that has shed some light on them? Perhaps this experience gave you a little insight into their situation and changed your perception of who they were…..they were transfigured before your eyes. I think this transfiguration of Jesus was a game changer for Peter, James, and John because their notions of his mission were significantly changed. As they descended the mountain, they knew they had witnessed something awesome but the experience shook the foundation of who they wanted Jesus to be. And as much as Jesus tried to explain, they wouldn’t fully understand until after His death, resurrection, and ascension….and believe it or not, for us, THIS is good news.
While an epiphany seems like a sudden and random event, the truth is epiphanies happen after a significant period of time when a final tidbit of information gathered brings something into focus and makes us say “Eureka! I got it!” While the ‘Eureka effect,’ (the sudden elation one experiences when having an epiphany) makes this event appear to be random, in actuality it is the end of a long process.
You may be heading into Lent not having had an epiphany, that is, you’re not sure how God is working in your life. Or perhaps God is not working according to your expectations. If this is the case, then don’t panic. Peter, James, and John….Jesus’ inner circle of friends didn’t understand right away either. Like the disciples, you may need to work these things out with Jesus in your prayer. Ask Jesus to shed some light in your life, to transfigure it….and then be patient. It may be that you’re being readied for something, and in God’s time, when you least expect it, EUREKA!!!
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