2nd Sunday in Lent, 2018
Remember when we were little and our Moms and Dads, but mostly our Moms, were always telling us what to do? Go wash your hands. Don’t ride your bike too fast or you’ll get hurt. Do all your homework. Take out the garbage.
Today’s Moms and Dads might say – put that phone down and do your homework. Maybe talk to their children about the harm of doing drugs, smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol.
Did we always listen to them? You know we didn’t. And why? Because we thought that we knew more than they did. We thought, “I’m just going to try it. They’ll never find out, “They’re always telling me what to do. What do they know?”
I’ve been thinking a lot about my Mom lately. And one thing I’ve been thinking about was how Mom had it right all along. Although I never thought it at the time, she wasn’t just telling us what to do to be mean. She loved us and was trying to protect us. She was trying to prevent us from experiencing pain, hurt, addiction, and hate. Mom would always tell us to forgive people who were mean to us or started a fight. My mother shared words of wisdom based upon her own experiences, her faith in God, and her belief in Jesus.
In today’s Gospel we hear God telling the 3 disciples, “This is my Son, the Beloved, listen to him!” And it hit me. All my religious life, I have been aware of Jesus and his story but I always disregarded his words. I’d say, “Oh that was a long time ago. What does that have to do with today?” I’d say, “You just can’t love everybody ALL the time. Not possible.” So, I didn’t listen.
Through my spiritual journey, I have come to realize and believe to be true that Jesus had it right all along.
A long time ago, I think that God looked down upon His creation and saw that we human beings just didn’t seem to be getting how to live a happy life. He saw that we humans worried a lot and hated a lot. We thought that happiness was ours if we accumulated wealth (even if it meant taking from others). I believe God saw that we were buying into the rhetoric that He was vengeful, filled with anger and watching us constantly to see if we made a mistake (of which, if we did, he would never forgive us). We were afraid of God.
So, He sent us Jesus, His Beloved Son to teach us, to guide us, to provide examples of how the straightest path to happiness for ourselves and our world is through love.
Jesus’ words of wisdom were to try our very best to always come from a place of love. And this doesn’t mean putting ourselves in a position to be hurt – only to be hurt time and time again. That’s what I used to think. “Turn the other cheek” only to be hurt again. That’s not what Jesus meant. And it doesn’t mean being a fool or a sucker.
Coming from a place of love means quickly forgiving someone who has wronged you or quickly forgive yourself for having wronged yourself. This does not mean to stay in a position to be wronged again. It means that you don’t talk about the person. It means that you don’t spend time thinking how to get the person back. It means not telling them off. And it also might mean quietly stepping away from the person or people so as not be hurt again.
Coming from love means not taking advantage of people’s generosity or kindness. Coming from love might mean learning how to separate a person’s hateful actions from the person – hating the actions but loving the person.
Being irritated but not saying a word. Not wanted to go somewhere but another person wants to go, so you do it anyway because it benefits them. Having a choice to make and making the decision based on what’s truly best for you and the other person. Coming from love means not worrying and not being burdened with guilt.
And as we practice coming from love and we keep practicing, that’s when transfiguration occurs. We are transfigured when we listen to that voice within that tells us to let something go instead of reacting, to be patient in a time of irritation or boredom, to say “Hello” to that stranger, to not complain, or to not tell that gossip story. As we listen and obey that voice – might it be our soul talking? – we are transformed because we now allow ourselves to live a life of peace and a life of happiness – free from sorrow, free from anger free guilt.
There was a movement at one time and you could buy bracelets that said “What would Jesus do?” It is such a good question to ask before taking an action or before speaking. I often think of this question. Do I always do what I know the answer to be? No, I don’t. But as human beings, our part in the journey is to keep asking that question and try as hard as we can to listen to God’s beloved because, like Mom, Jesus had it right all along.