Learning from our transformative experiences
By Maurice White Seminarian,
Archdiocese of Port of Spain
A few months before I started my vocation journey, I dreamt myself playing the piano under the Big Tree in the Arima market. “Fill my house unto the fullest. Eat my bread and drink my wine. The love I bear is held from no one, all I have and all I do, I give to you…,” I sang.
Suddenly, a dozen homeless persons appeared reaching out to touch me. I awoke, inspired by this profound experience; it has strengthened my vocation to this day. I consider this my Mount Tabor experience, and I believe everyone is blessed with one at some point in their lives.
I invite you to think of your own profound experience while you meditate on the gospel of the Transfiguration, which the Church presents us with on this second Sunday of Lent.
During Lent, we go through a sleep mode of sorts—a moment of pause and retreat—much like the mysterious experience of the disciples on the mountain. In this time—through prayer, fasting and almsgiving—we allow God to create us anew.
Sleep, which is absolutely necessary for our renewal and growth, is a powerful analogy in the Transfiguration text. First with Adam and then our father Abraham in the Book of Genesis, sleep was the unique method God used to complete us and to ‘wake us up’ to a covenant of total intimacy with Him and right relationship with one other.
The gospel tells us that Peter, James and John were heavy with sleep, yet somehow awake and alive, privileged to witness the most sublime reality beyond this entire universe—Jesus’ divinity and His true essence as “God from God, Light from Light”, as our Creed declares.
But what did the disciples do with this profound experience? Peter requests to stay on the mountain to construct three tents. Imagine, the most profound experience of your life is happening, and you ask to engage in manual labour!
Was this to avoid the cross that was to come—the very cross of which Jesus, Elijah and Moses were speaking? Peter would go on to deny Jesus. Or was Peter so enraptured by Christ’s luminous glory, that he wanted to capture this feeling forever?
Whatever it was, we must learn a valuable lesson here: allow the profound experiences that God places every day in our lives and in our Church, to take root within us, to transform us into the people He wants us to be.
I often ponder on John’s response. The gospels do not reveal what the beloved disciple said or did. All we know for certain is that he never left Jesus’ side, and at the foot of Calvary, he embraced the cross as if it were a friend.
Did John allow this profound experience to work within him, as I have tried to let my dream do for me? Did he truly listen to the Father’s voice in the cloud, allowing that command to wake him up and transform his being?
Was he so transformed that not only did he listen to Jesus’ voice but, reclining on His breast, listened to His heart as well? Will we do the same?
Lent has traditionally been a time when we seek to allow God to work within us. But also, the many months of the pandemic should not be lost on us. Some have persevered through the down-time of Covid, allowing this difficult time to have a transformative effect on their physical, spiritual, and emotional lives.
The Synod on Synodality can also be the ideal opportunity to allow God to breathe new life into His Church, through a fresh outpouring of His Spirit.
Let us not allow these profound experiences to pass us by. They present us with special opportunities to become fully alive in our vocation as Christians.
This Lent, let us be appreciative of all the wonderful experiences with which God has blessed us, humbly listening to Him and to one other, allowing these experiences to strengthen and transform us in our vocation as disciples of Christ.
The gospel reflections for March are by seminarians of the Regional Seminary of St John Vianney and the Uganda Martyrs, Mt St Benedict, Tunapuna.