Embracing the Mystery
This Sunday will be the “Last Sunday after the Epiphany.” As is the tradition every year, we will hear of the “Transfiguration” of Jesus, one of the last events before he starts making His way to Jerusalem for the final dramatic days leading up to the Crucifixion and Resurrection.
The Transfiguration is one of those events we really don’t know how to make sense of. There’s no Cecile B. DeMille or George Lucas movie version to carry in our heads.
Back when I was in seminary, I spent a week on retreat at a Byzantine Orthodox monastery and I was intrigued to learn how important the Transfiguration is for our brothers and sisters of the Orthodox traditions. They highly revere the Transfiguration because it reveals Jesus. Not because it reveals specific facts and information about Jesus, but because it reveals Jesus.
Those of us brought up in a more “western” tradition tend to look for clear, definable facts in our understanding of revelation. Not so the Orthodox. Mystery is as revealing as fact for them.
We westerners, in general, approach life from a pragmatic point of view. “How does this work?” “What difference does it make?” “How do I put this to use in my life?” The eastern tradition is more inclined to simply behold the other and not to be so concerned about impact or application. They celebrate simply a new view of Jesus, without being concerned about how it helps them, or brings more clarity.
While I’m still a pragmatist at heart, I pray that the Lord will give me more and more of a heart for the mystery of who Jesus is, and the joy simply in seeing a little more, without having to ask “So what?”
The deep and lasting relationships in our lives are based more on the simple joy of knowing each other than on the pragmatic details of the interactions, like who takes out the trash, cooks the food or pays the bills. So our relationship with God is founded first and foremost on the joy and wonder of His presence in our lives without turning immediately to “So what?” and “What does this do for me?”
Can you embrace the mystery?
This column appeared in the February 11, 2018 issue of St. John’s eNews. Click here for the full issue.
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