Relating, Creating, Transforming

Posts tagged ‘metamorfosis’

The Great Life Adventure

Matthew 14:22-33

Hobbit_coverThe Hobbit, a book by JRR Tolkien, begins with this line: “in a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” The author Tolkien lets us the reader know that this is not a nasty or unkempt hole, like the lair of a mouse, but rather a cozy place, filled with fine furniture, doilies, and a well-stocked kitchen. Bilbo Baggins is this particular hobbit, and it is from this comfortable space that he is called to a great adventure.

It is Gandalf, a wizard, who initially interrupts Bilbo’s comfortable life.

Let’s watch a scene from the movie version of the story: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

 

Obviously, Bilbo is not very enthusiastic about the idea.

And after meeting the large group of dwarves who will “contract” him for this adventure—Bilbo is even less enthusiastic. They are messy and rambunctious and not of his kind. Why would he choose to go on an adventure with them?

Of course.

Why leave a place of complete comfort and predictability to enter a life of challenge, risk, and uncertainty?

Why?

This is the theme presented to us in another story of adventure—the story of Jesus of Nazareth and his disciples. We are looking at Matthew’s version.

It’s easy to get distracted in these stories by the seemingly “miraculous” things that Jesus does. Case in point—walking on water as if it’s nobody’s bizness.

But we shouldn’t let ourselves get too distracted by the “miracles” that we so often associate Jesus with. The push of Matthew’s story is not to dazzle us with Jesus’ magic tricks. Matthew’s author wants the reader to recognize the calling of Jesus of Nazareth—to that group of friends he called disciples—but also a calling to the wider community. It is up to you how you want to interpret the so-called miracles stories of the Bible. My point of view is that miracles do not require Divine intervention to be a miracle. I think that unexpected, extraordinary things happen each day when we participate in the world and when we are fully human.

And there’s another twist to this story, of course—one that I invite you to think about. Consider this scene of the disciples on a boat without Jesus. When they “see” him, they see a ghost. They hear familiar words [take heart, do not be afraid] and then Peter makes his attempt to scurry across the lake like one of those cool, green lizards in the rain forest. To me, this story looks just like the other resurrection appearance/vision stories after Jesus’ death. The disciples were alone, Jesus appears; they see a ghost or something else, Jesus assures them with peace and do not be afraid; then, someone in the disciples group says or does something that makes it a teaching moment. Then, the group as a whole finds renewed strength to continue their journey.

As I always say, it’s up to you. I choose to see this story in that way [and not literally at all], but you need to develop your own perspective.

Regardless, one of the clear themes of the story is getting rid of fear and then journeying out to the unknown. It’s about a great adventure that involves taking risks and facing doubts and fears.

I think Bilbo’s story is quite similar in the Hobbit.

Let’s watch another clip of The Hobbit, in which Bilbo’s cozy house is back to normal. The dwarves and Gandalf the Wizard have gone. His dishes, bowls, and plates are all in order. It seems like nothing ever happened. Perhaps Bilbo was able to rid himself of that adventure idea that he was so set against.

What made Bilbo decide to leave his cozy house and comfortable existence?

Why did he choose the adventure?

After all, the adventure would be scary at times. Hungry trolls who rather enjoy the taste of hobbits; nasty orcs; giant spiders; a fire-breathing dragon.

But Bilbo chose to go on this adventure anyway.

He chose to leave behind the comforts of his material things.
He chose to befriend and share life with creatures of different kinds and cultures.
He chose to journey into the unknown.
He chose to face the evils in the world—the scary things.

Bilbo faced his doubts, his fears, his complacency, and his attachments.

And on the adventure, Bilbo learned about gifts and talents he never knew he had; he learned how to love; how to give; how to be an adventurous hobbit.

And so it is, friends.

The world is indeed a scary place sometimes
There are winds that blow and we feel unstable.
There are times when we feel alone and useless.
Sometimes you may feel that you don’t have a purpose at all.

But the great adventure of life itself is a gift worth embracing.

Jesus of Nazareth called his friends and companions to greater things. They were asked to take risks and to leave their places of comfort.

Why?
Because on the journey of their adventure, they discovered, learned, grew, and transformed.

Will you consider the adventure of life over the routine of comfort?

You have undiscovered gifts and talents to explore and try out.
You can discover how to love people in honest ways.
You can learn how to give freely without expecting something.
You can learn how to empty yourself of all the fears and anxieties that keep you locked behind closed doors.

On the adventure, you can learn to be free of attachments.

No matter what stage of life you are in, the adventure can begin again.

Today.

You are staring at the door; will you venture out into the open?

Still Living, Still Changing Lives!

Luke 24:1-12

jesuspeepsThe “Easter” sermon is the hardest one to preach.

No really–it is.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not the tried-and-true, Christian-crux message with which you can’t go wrong. After all, how do I effectively relate Jesus, the Easter Bunny, colored eggs, and marshmallow peeps?

It is a story so misunderstood and so overdone. It is about somebody dying and then coming back to life. It is the Sunday when people who never go to a church service all of a sudden show up, expecting magic.

It is the resurrection story. And it forms the foundations for this religion called Christianity. There is this Jesus. Then, he is dying on a cross. Afterwards, he is dead and his body is in a tomb. And then his body disappears and this Jesus reappears to his friends.

And a religion forms.

And today we say: He is risen! He is risen indeed!

coolJesusAnd yet, each Gospel of the New Testament of the Bible tells its own story.

I know I say this a lot, but it’s worth remembering. Luke, a Gospel book, has a distinctive resurrection story. Remember that this is not an eyewitness account of the events, but a retelling of the story, with metaphors, references to the Hebrew Scriptures and prophets, and even references to the early Christian community. Yes, let’s remember—all four Gospels were written well after Jesus’ death and were penned within the community of this new group of followers of Jesus. In fact, Luke’s Gospel is even more unique because the same people who wrote Luke wrote the book of Acts. They are meant to be read in succession. So let’s do that.

The end of Luke’s Gospel reads like this:

Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.

The beginning of Acts reads like this:

In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen.

It is important to note this characteristic of Luke’s story, because it does not end with an empty tomb, an appearance by Jesus on the road to Emmaus, and then Jesus blessing the disciples. Luke’s Gospel continues in the book of Acts. And as the title of Acts makes it clear, the story continues in the action of people—people from many different backgrounds, of different ages and genders, who were moved by God’s Spirit through the life, teachings, death, and resurrected life of Jesus of Nazareth. We must work backwards to fully understand the resurrection stories of the Bible. They were written with a context and a community in mind.

So that being said, let’s enjoy Luke’s story.

It was the first day of the week. This means the first day after the Sabbath [Saturday], so it was Sunday. They [women] went to the tomb were Jesus’ body was laid, burial spices and anointing materials in hand. When they got there, the stone that was supposed to keep people out of the tomb was rolled to the side. No body of Jesus anywhere.

So let’s pause for a moment. Luke’s resurrection story begins just as the birth story did. Luke tells the story of Jesus’ birth with women as the central figures. Women are the first to know about Jesus’ birth. Here on resurrection day it is the same. Women are the first to know about Jesus’ rebirth.

The women, just like Mary the mother of Jesus, were perplexed by this news. And then, two men in dazzling clothes appear. Two men is a translation of the Greek words andres duo. Why should you care? Because earlier in Luke’s Gospel, chapter 9, you may remember a story about Jesus and the disciples on a mountain and something called a transfiguration. In that story this same phrase andres duo is used to refer to Moses and Elijah—dead prophets who appear to the disciples in a dream. So these two men were changed men. Were they angels, like in Luke’s birth story? We find out later in Luke 24:23 that the women at the tomb told their crazy story to the other disciples, saying that “they had indeed seen a vision of angels.” Ah, Luke is a great storyteller. So far, in just a few lines, we have been connected all the way back to Moses and Elijah, and even to the birth of Jesus!

The two men speak: “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” Fear is a factor. The women came to a tomb, expecting death. It was not a pleasant journey. Now, they were confused and fearful. I know that the Bible doesn’t mention zombies or ghosts [technically] but I pretty much think that the women had all kinds of weird thoughts about what was going on. What kind of strange vision was this? Who rolled the stone away? Who were these two men?

But their fear of any creepy, crawly dead things is alleviated when the two men direct the women’s attention away from the tomb. He is not here. He has been raised. Yes, grammar sticklers out there, another passive tense. But in this case, with meaning. Jesus has been raised indicates that Jesus himself did not gain superpowers, turn into a super Messiah zombie and throw the stone to the side. This was actually God’s doing.

Then Luke uses a word that appears a gazillion times in this Gospel. Remember. Remember, ladies, when Jesus was still in your homeland of Galilee? Remember what he taught you? The Son of Man [the human one][1]told you that he would be handed over to sinners, be crucified, and then on the third day rise again?

Remembrance is big in Luke’s Gospel. Earlier in the story, during the scene in which Peter denies Jesus three times, Peter remembers the word of the lord, before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.[2]

The thief on the cross asked Jesus to remember me when you come into your kingdom.[3]

And of course, Jesus said to his disciples, Do this in remembrance of me.[4]

For Luke, remembering is important. The story [and the experience of it] is renewed with a refreshed understanding, added insight, and change of perspective. This story is told so that all who read it will remember and reinterpret it with the new information they now have.

And so, the heroines in the story, these women disciples, do just that. They DO remember Jesus’ words and return to where the other disciples were staying. Now we hear their names: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and even more women. They tell the story to the male disciples. They don’t believe them. In fact, the men think that the women are delirious! They are nuts! Insane! They don’t remember. Peter, the one who remembered Jesus’ words a little too late when the cock crowed, decides to go to the tomb. When he does, he looks inside and sees linen cloths by themselves. He is amazed and returns home.

Look, I don’t know what you think or believe about these resurrection stories.

I am honest and realistic about things. I use my brain [well, I try to] and I believe in science. I love stories and I have a great imagination. But I also treasure logic and observation. In short, I am a person of faith, but that doesn’t mean science, biology, history, culture, logic, and my brain get thrown out the window when I’m talking and thinking about Jesus.

Quite the opposite, actually. I believe in resurrection. Here’s the thing, though–so do atheists and agnostics.

Perhaps you stopped reading this  now, but this is true. You don’t have to believe that Jesus of Nazareth [who really was called Joshua] physically died and then physically rose from the dead, appearing physically to disciples to appropriately fulfill prophecy. You don’t have to believe that to believe in resurrection. If this makes me a heretic, I’m glad to be one.

I know many, many people who live as fully-resurrected individuals, giving their time, gifts, and lives to resurrect good in others and in communities. I am a follower of Christ. I believe in Christ and I walk that path with Christ. But what happened on the third day? Was there resurrection that fits nicely into our church’s doctrine? Or was there resurrection on God’s terms?

This heretic wonders if the resurrection stories are metaphors for you—pointing you to a resurrected perspective about your own life—how you have the chance each day to be made new and to do something kind, creative, wonderful, or merciful. Perhaps this story is more about the legacy of Jesus’ teachings, but not necessarily a factual, bodily raising of Jesus from the dead.

On the other hand, this heretic also wonders if the resurrection story, for some of you, is still a historical telling of the resurrection of a man who was killed and his body placed in a tomb, and then, miraculously, by the power of God, he was raised from the dead—and he walked and talked with his friends and disciples. Perhaps this belief moves you to believe in the impossible—that amazing, merciful things can still happen in you and in others, because God is still at work in this messed-up world.

What I experience is that most people see this story differently. But I also think we all can find a shared value here.

Luke’s story isn’t meant to end with folklore or some theological dogma or doctrine.

The story continues in the lives that are changed–in the people who are renewed, reshaped, transformed, encouraged, forgiven, healed, and moved.

We remember the story, not because it’s tradition, but because in  our remembering, we are inspired to move!

We remember resurrection, so we change. We remember so we forgive and show mercy and welcome the stranger and embrace everyone’s humanity and love, spread kindness, pay it forward, and widen the circle.

Otherwise, why remember at all, if the story doesn’t move us to loving, just action?

Why tell the story at all unless it makes us better human beings? Why even say Christ is risen unless we ourselves are resurrected, changed people who believe in unlimited mercy and that all people deserve love? Why remember resurrection unless the people around us see the fruit of what Christ taught and lived in our actions?

So…remember. All people have the opportunity to be resurrected and renewed.

No more guilt or fear that needs to grip your life. Let the healing come. Remember it.

You are loved, covered with mercy, and expected to rise up. So remember.

And do rise up. Rise to the occasion of mercy, love, and community.

And don’t just remember today.

Remember every day.

Be changed every day. Amen.


[1] The Common English Bible.

[2] Luke 22:61

[3] Luke 23:42

[4] Luke 22:19

Fully Awake

Luke 9:28-43

PhillySo the other day I was walking down the street in University City in Philadelphia, on my way to a meeting. It was cold [of course] and so people were hurrying to class, work, or wherever they needed to go without hesitating one bit. Who could blame them? It was cold. I admit that I also hurried down the street just like everybody else—though I did have about 10-15 minutes to spare before my meeting started. Perhaps it was for that reason or because of some strange coincidence that my eyes made contact with someone else’s eyes. She was standing there, in the cold, not running to the next thing. She just stood there. As the people hurried by, she stood there. Our eyes met and before I knew it, my feet had stopped walking. And now I stood there. Whoosh. A group of students buzzed past. A delivery truck’s engine hummed as they loaded merchandise. Whoosh. A businesswoman walked in between me and the strange, standing still, eye-contact-making woman.

Can you buy me a sandwich, please? Sir? Can you buy me a sandwich?

That is all she said. My first reaction was related more to logistics than to any kind of ethical or moral decision:

Uh…Where?

Here.

She pointed to the door of a food court-type establishment full of UPenn and Drexel students and I followed her inside. It was much warmer, of course, and she asked me if it would be okay for her to buy a sandwich at a particular place, to which I nodded my head and said:

Sure.

Thank you, sir.

She ordered the sandwich, I paid [as the lady behind the counter looked at me with a strange expression] and then she shook my hand and said:

My name’s Tanya.

I’m Josh.

Thank you, Josh.

And then Tanya shook my hand for a second time [firmly], and then she was gone—sandwich and all. Out into the cold, out onto the street where the people whizzed by and the cars honked and where my meeting was now a couple of minutes away. I too walked back out into the cold and joined the hurried mess. I made my meeting; then I worked on the worship service for Sunday; I answered a bunch of emails; I made some phone calls; I continued on with my day; but I kept thinking about Tanya.

eyeNow I make no great claim of being a humanitarian. I just bought her a sandwich, after all. I didn’t change the world, I didn’t get Tanya a job, I didn’t fix the poverty and homelessness in Philadelphia and beyond; I did nothing extraordinary. I make no value judgment about what I did, because, honestly, at its core, all I did was make eye contact with someone. And the eye contact led to me buying a sandwich.

I will say, however, that we live in a world full of people. We come in contact with people every day—or, at least we should. We share sidewalks, streets, rooms, offices, schools, churches, air, ground, and the planet with other people. And I think the more we realize that every day we come into contact with another human being and have the chance to treat him/her as a human being—the more we are awake to opportunity and possibility. At our most honest moments, we recognize that the world is a difficult, sometimes-awful place. It can feel overwhelming; it can seem hopeless and therefore not worthwhile to help or to try to make a positive impact. But I wonder–if we considered that every day we come into contact with other people; if we made eye contact with them; if we treated them like human beings and not objects or clients or consumers or agendas or ethnicities or nationalities or orientations or categories—I wonder if we just might awaken to new purposes and perspectives.

butterflyTransfiguration. It means metamorphosis; a change; an enlightening; an awakening. Transfiguration is a word we use to describe this crazy story in the Gospels of the Bible. Today is even called Transfiguration Sunday. Why? Because Wednesday, February 13th is the start of the season of Lent, a 40 day period.  Most consider Lent to be the oldest Christian observance—starting out as a time for the early followers of Jesus to pray, fast, and undergo self-examination. Over time, traditions change of course, but the purpose remained the same. The reason Lent became a 40 day observance was to remember Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness for, you guessed it—prayer, fasting, and self-examination. And as I’ve mentioned before, the number 40 is incredibly symbolic. Moses was 40 days on Mt. Sinai with God; Elijah spent 40 days walking to Mt. Horeb; 40 days and nights Noah and company dealt with the flood; 40 years the Israelites wandered in the desert before making it to the holy land; and Jonah, premium whale food, gave the Ninevites 40 days to shape up and honor God.

So the transfiguration story is steeped in symbolism, and not a literal tale. There are three versions of the story—in Mark, Matthew, and here in Luke. In the version we read today, Jesus just finished teaching his followers about what it would mean to be disciples. What should they expect? After this, they went up to a mountain for prayer. Right away, the symbol of a mountain should tell us that the story has shifted from down-to-earth action to metaphorical, visionary stuff. Up on the mountain, in Biblical stories, people hear and see things differently. Perspectives change. So Peter, John, James, and Jesus go up the mountain. And Jesus prays. Prayer is something that Luke’s Gospel focuses on. And in this case, it is during the act of prayer that Jesus’ face [and his clothes] brighten up. This is visual—seen. Also seen are two beloved faith heroes of old—Moses and Elijah. These two speak to Jesus about his apparent departure, but really the word better translated is exodus.

Aha! So Luke is directly connecting the exodus story of Moses and the Israelites from Egypt to Jerusalem with Jesus’ ministry. Moses led the Israelites from slavery to freedom. So Jesus would lead people from bondage to freedom. But Jesus and Moses had yet another thing in common. Moses, when he met up with God on the mountain and received commands from God—came down with a bright, radiant face. Luke doesn’t want us to miss this Jesus-Moses connection. Luke wants you and me as readers to see.

But it’s hard to see, don’t you think, if your eyes are closed? Peter and company were weighed down with sleep and we don’t know why. But really, doesn’t this scene look a lot like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane? I mean, he was praying there, too, and the disciples were asleep then, too. But our storyteller Luke reminds us that up on the mountain, even with the sleepies still in their eyes, Peter and co. become fully awake. They see Jesus for who he is and Moses and Elijah. Even so, Peter is as clumsy as ever. He interrupts the transcendent, spiritual moment with:

Hey Jesus—it’s good to be here. Let’s make three tents. You can have one, and we’ll give one to Moses and Elijah, too!

Says the narrator: Peter didn’t even know what he said.

PeterSometimes I think Peter is singled out in the Gospels to represent our inability to listen or simply to call attention to our general lack of awareness.
Okay, but Peter is probably not this bad.

But even Peter’s words can’t hold back the vision of clouds and voice from up above, telling them to listen to Jesus. It is pretty clear that the whole story is meant for the disciples [and for you and I] to stop trying to figure everything out and to just listen. Just see.

The veil is lifted up and Peter, James, and John see things as they are—no facades or masks, no false pretense, no filter. This vision is raw. It’s terrifying. It’s the real world.

They come down from the mountain. Right away, the world finds them. A great crowd forms. A man shouts out:

Help my son! He’s sick—he has random seizures. It’s horrific! Your disciples, when I told them about him, couldn’t do anything. Help!

No more visions. No more floating clouds and god-like voices. No more tents for faith heroes. No more sleeping. Real life. Raw life. A sick kid. A desperate dad. A needy crowd.

And an unhappy Jesus, right? Jesus, fresh off the mountaintop experience, is ticked off! He almost cannot bear to be with humanity anymore. The world is so messed up, there is so much injustice and so many people sleepwalking through it all—he’s had it! A calm, passive Jesus petting a baby lamb? No way. He’s Jesus–the one God is actually pleased with, because he tells it like it is, sees things as they are. Yes, Jesus ends up healing the kid, but he does so almost reluctantly, because he knows that one healing won’t change the world. One healing won’t bring justice to all those oppressed by an imperialistic society. One healing is one healing. There is much more work to be done and the road ahead is difficult. And it may get ugly.

Wait—it WILL get ugly.

And we are supposed to see without a veil over our faces. We are supposed to make eye contact with the world as it is. And we are supposed to wake up—fully awaken, to be able to act. But it’s hard—isn’t it—to not lose hope or to get overwhelmed and then apathetic? It’s hard to balance the mystical, spiritual, heartwarming experiences we want to have with the raw, tangible, ugly, and difficult experiences of real life. But that’s the point. The mountain and the street corner are one and the same. The great visions co-exist with the unjust, sad, and sick lives of real people. The spiritual, God-experiences live in the same space with unanswered prayers. The voices in the clouds co-exist with the desperate cries in the street. We have no time to build tents or shrines to commemorate religious things. We have today. And if our eyes are open, we can see the spiritual co-existing with humanity.

We can see that God doesn’t stay far off in the clouds, but lives with us in our pain, our uncertainty, our fears, and our inadequacies. We can see that there is more to the world than just what our physical eyes spot or what our TVs tell us.

There is more to the world. There is more to people than the categories we give them. We are more than categories. We are loved, and gifted, and full of purpose. And so are the others around us. We just need to see. We just need to wake up. Every day is an opportunity to see someone and accept her for who she is—embracing her whole self, her full humanity. Every day is a chance to open your eyes to notice that you can do good in the world if you fully awaken.

40 days are just another 40 days if you want them to be. But Lent could be a mountaintop experience on the city street, if you are open to it. This is an opportunity to see. May our eyes be fully open and our hearts prepared to make eye contact; to listen; to embrace someone’s full humanity; to heal; to forgive; to share; to love. Amen.

 

La Oruga Muy Hambrienta [The Very Hungry Caterpillar]

Mateo 17:1-9/Matthew 17:1-9
Mariposas

Cuando era un niño, recuerdo que mis papas leyeron un libro que se llamaba La Oruga Muy Hambrienta. Cuantos de Uds. han leído este libro? Es ecrito por Eric Carle. Es muy corto. Y lo voy a leer:

Image

Al claro de luna reposa un huevecillo sobre una hoja. Un domingo de mañana, salió el tibio sol, del huevo salió una oruga diminuta y muy hambrienta.

Enseguida empezó a buscar comida…
El lunes comió, comió y atravesó una manzana, pero aún seguía hambrienta.
El martes comió, comió y atravesó dos peras, pero aún seguía hambrienta.
El miércoles comió, comió y atravesó tres ciruelas, pero aún seguía hambrienta.
El jueves comió, comió y atravesó cuatro fresas, pero aún seguía hambrienta.
El viernes comió, comió y atravesó cinco naranjas, pero aún seguía hambrienta.
El sábado comió, comió y atravesó un pastel de chocolate, un helado, un pepinillo, un trozo de queso suizo, una rodaja de salame, una paleta, un pastel de cerezas, una salchicha, un pastelito y una tajada de sandía.

¡Esa noche, tuvo un tremendo dolor de estómago!
Al día siguiente era domingo otra vez.
La oruga comió una hermosa hoja bien verde, y se sintió mucho mejor.

Y no tenía hambre, ni era una pequeña oruga. ¡Ahora era una oruga grande y gorda! Construyó una casita a su alrededor – un capullo-y se encerró en ella por más de dos semanas. Un día hizo un agujero en el capullo, empujó un poco para salir y…

¡Se encontró convertida en una bellísima mariposa!

Image

Me encanta la historia. De hecho, la vida real de las orugas que cambian a ser mariposas es algo de la naturaleza que nos fascina. Por qué? Porque una oruga verde y extraña que se convierte en una mariposa brillante y bonita es increíble. La transformación, o la metamorfosis es significante. No debería de sorprendernos que esta historia de una oruga muy hambrienta nos pone a pensar en nosotros mismos. Estamos viendo el evangelio de Mateo, específicamente la historia de la transfiguración. Bueno, les digo que esta palabra transfiguración no es algo habitual. No ocupamos esta palabra en la vida cotidiana. Y la historia en Mateo es un poco rara.

Aunque estamos leyendo el nuevo testamento, esta historia tiene su raíz en el antiguo testamento, realmente la escritura hebrea de los judíos, que se llama el Tora. Si quieren, pueden ver el libro de Éxodo, capitulo 34. Esta historia es muy conocida. Moisés, el profeta, va a la cima de la montana Sinaí. Allá recibe los mandamientos de Dios. Pero miren lo que pasa–cuando Moisés baja de la montana para compartir estas instrucciones con la gente—su cara empieza a brillar y a la gente le da miedo. Los Israelitas no pueden ver a su propio líder, Moisés. Desde este momento y adelante, Moisés tiene que llevar un velo sobre su cara después de hablar con Dios. Es difícil imaginar a Moisés como una novia, verdad? Pero así fue. Y noten que lo que paso a Moisés es similar a lo que paso a Jesús en el evangelio de Mateo. El detalle que Mateo nos da es que la ropa de Jesús cambia a ser de color blanco brillante.

Pero vamos a pensar más en esta palabra transfiguración. Como estamos leyendo el nuevo testamento, el idioma original es griego. La palabra griega por transfiguración es metemorphothe, en español, metamorfosis. Ocupamos esta palabra para describir cuando una oruga  muy hambrienta cambia a ser una mariposa. La que emerge de un capullo es completamente diferente a la que entró. Metamorfosis. Transfiguración. Algo nuevo emerge.

También, lo que a mi me gusta mucho de esta historia es que podemos ver la reacción de los tres discípulos de Jesús—Pedro, Jaime [Jacobo], y Juan. Ellos estaban con Jesús en este momento importante. Pero ellos no brillaban como el sol ni llevaban ropa blanca. Pero si vieron algo. Moisés y Elías aparecieron en frente de sus ojos! Y luego, una nube brillante los tapo y la voz de Dios habló desde la nube! Obviamente, estos tres hombres eran más que observantes inocentes. También eran transformados! Se quedaron petrificados, escondiendo sus ojos hasta que Jesús les dijo que fue tiempo para ver hacia arriba. Cuando lo hicieron, Moisés y Elías habían desaparecido al igual que la nube; los discípulos quedaron solamente con Jesús, su maestro. Pero no eran iguales. Nada era igual. Después de esta experiencia, Jesús y sus discípulos empezaron su ministerio. Viajaban a los pueblos. Ensenaron, sanaron, compartieron la misericordia de Dios. Su experiencia en la cima de la montaña les transformó y les dio todo lo necesario para vivir la voluntad de Dios en el mundo.

Entonces, que pasa con nosotros? Vamos a empezar con la experiencia de la montana. Han tenido una experiencia así? Les ha llamado Dios a subir hasta un lugar muy alto para conversar? Pues, a la mejor muchos de Uds. van a decir “no” porque no recuerdan una experiencia santa en la cual Dios les reveló la gloria del Señor personalmente. Yo tampoco no puedo decir esto. Tal vez no han tenido la experiencia cuando las nubes les han hablado o visiones de sus antepasados. Pero recuerden que las experiencias en la montana no son iguales. Dios nos habla donde nos encontramos y como somos. No cada persona responde igual. Entonces, piensen en un momento de su vida cuando sintieron la presencia de Dios. Un momento cuando eran inspirados a creer o tener fe; una experiencia cuando algo los motivó para seguir el camino de amor y misericordia. Tal vez fue cuando eran niños o jóvenes o recientemente como adultos. A la mejor pasó cuando estaban orando o hablando con un amigo muy querido; o cuando estaban estudiando por una examen o cuando estaban trabajando. Piensen. Cuando les habló Dios? O si no saben si han tenido una experiencia así, piensen en un momento de mucha claridad, un momento cuando el amor fue evidente; una experiencia de compasión, perdón o gracia.

Ahora, recuerden lo que pasó después. Que hicieron? Empezaron a ser parte de una comunidad de fe? Empezaron a orar o a leer la biblia? Cambiaron de trabajo o pueblo o aun cambiaron de país? Oraron por la primera vez no por obligación sino por gozo? Pueden ver? Las experiencias de la montana en la comunidad de fe empiezan y terminan con acción. Primero, Dios actúa en la montana. Luego, es nuestra respuesta que sigue. Entonces, la primera cosa para recordar es que nosotros tenemos que bajar de la Montana. No podemos quedarnos en la cima porque no es una realidad. Nuestras vidas no siempre son bonitas ni transcendentes, ni muy espirituosas. De hecho, día al día nuestras vidas son rutinas; son normales; no siempre sentimos la emoción de la montana. Usualmente no tenemos visiones de Moisés o Elías; no siempre oímos la voz de Dios. A veces no podemos ver absolutamente nada y Dios parece muy silencioso.

Sin embargo, vivimos aquí en la tierra muy lejos de la montana. Que hacemos?

La respuesta nos lleva otra vez a la montana. Tenemos que escuchar. Empezamos con esto. Si no escuchamos a Dios, la experiencia no significa nada. Si no escuchamos a Dios no vamos a aprender, no vamos a darnos cuenta de su misericordia y su amor. Hay una razón porque Dios hablo a los tres discípulos y solamente dijo algo simple: Escuchen a mi hijo. Ellos necesitaban oír de Dios que Jesús de Nazaret era más que un hombre loco que caminaba contra la corriente. La enseñanza de Jesús y su ejemplo de vida eran invitaciones a los discípulos para reconocer su propósito en la vida. Amigos, tenemos que escuchar. Si solamente hablamos de muchas cosas y de religión y lo que debemos hacer o lo que otra gente debe hacer—no escuchamos. Y así no actuamos. Pero si escuchamos con paciencia y humildad podemos ser inspirados a vivir como gente de amor, fe, y justicia. No siempre hablaremos sino que actuaremos en nuestra comunidad, en nuestras casas, donde trabajamos, donde estudiamos—donde respiramos. Así la experiencia de Dios es viva, no solamente dicha.  

En si, tenemos que cambiar. Moisés bajó de la montana de Sinaí y fue un hombre transformado. Tenía otra perspectiva. Aunque fue una persona muy tímida el decidió ser un líder. Asimismo, cuando Jesús bajó de la Montana su cara brilló tanto que pareció otra persona. Sus discípulos eran cambiados también. No regresaron a su rutina. Eran inspirados para salir de su monotonía. Tenían confianza. Tenían empatía por otra gente. Abrieron sus corazones y mentes para aceptar a cualquier persona. Ya no eran orugas. Eran mariposas. El amor de Dios era evidente en sus vidas. No quedaron en la montana. Decidieron vivir y eso fue una gran bendición para muchos.

Amigos, si decimos que somos personas de fe y mas que esto, si decimos que seguimos a Jesu Cristo, que significa? Para ser sal y luz en el mundo, nuestras acciones tienen que brillar más que nuestras palabras. Perdonamos? Amamos de verdad? Aceptamos? Enseñamos misericordia? Buscamos unidad en nuestro mundo? Tenemos hambre por justicia para toda la gente?

Yo no soy una persona de gran fe. Todavía tengo momentos cuando no escucho bien a Dios o a mi hermano o hermana. A veces me quedo en la Montana. Pero todavía sé que Dios me habla y nos habla hoy. Tenemos la oportunidad para escuchar. La compasión de Dios nos habla de muchas maneras. Para poder escuchar debemos ser hambrientos como la oruga. Debemos tener hambre por la justicia y la misericordia.

Amigos, tenemos que salir del capullo. Porque las mariposas escuchan esta voz que dice: la misericordia de Dios es para todos. La voz dice: vengan, los que tienen hambre. Vengan y cambien. Coman de la comida que satisface. Que se den cuenta que no importa sus situaciones, sus dudas, o sus errores. Todavía Dios les habla. Todavía Dios les ama. Todavía hay oportunidad de cambiar. Son mariposas—con un propósito de escuchar, vivir, compartir, y ser nuevas criaturas. Amen.

 

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