2nd Sunday of Lent (Ages 6-9): Encounter
(Adults, you could begin by reading the first paragraph of the reflection to the child, then read the Gospel, and then continue with the reflection.)
Many times in St. Luke's Gospel, we hear about Jesus praying. In the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus takes Peter and John and James with him when he goes to pray. They must feel very special; they get to see what happens when Jesus prays. We get to see what happens, too.
Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray.
In the Bible, mountains are places of encounter with God. It makes sense then, for Jesus to pray on the mountain. Prayer is an encounter with God. What does encounter mean? Jesus will talk to God; God will talk to Jesus. Jesus will look at God; God will look at Jesus. Jesus will love God; God will love Jesus. They will know each other.
And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white.
Something happens while Jesus prays. When Jesus has an encounter with God, he looks different. His appearance changes. This is not how he usually appears to Peter and John and James. Does Jesus notice this change? Appearance is about the one who is looking. Jesus is not looking at himself; he is praying. But Peter and John and James are looking. They notice the new appearance! Are they the only ones looking at Jesus? Perhaps they are seeing Jesus the way he appears to God. Perhaps this is how God knows Jesus.
Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.
While Jesus prays, time changes, too. Peter and John and James see people who lived long ago. They see Moses, who encounters God on mountains, whose face shines with light after meeting with God. They see Elijah the prophet, who listens so carefully that he encounters the voice of God speaking to him in the wilderness. These people, long dead, appear in glory. Glory is the magnificence of God's presence, of God being near. Moses and Elijah are part of Jesus' prayer, part of the encounter with God.
What do these people from the past speak to Jesus about? What is his departure? We know happens at Jerusalem. We know Jesus suffers, dies, is buried. We know he rises to new life, never to die again. We know that the light of his Risen Life will never go out. These people from the past speak of Jesus' future.
Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said.
Peter knows whose glory this is. He knows that it is gift. Past and present and future—all time of God together—he wants Jesus' encounter with God to go on and on and on. Peter wants to anchor this moment on the mountain. He wants this to be the place where God dwells.
While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud.
What is happening here?
We remember the angel Gabriel's word's to Mary:
The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you
We remember that Fear of the Lord—holy fear, Wonder and Awe—is a gift of the Holy Spirit.
We know that in the moment Peter and John and James enter the cloud, they are gathered into the Holy Spirit. They enter the encounter with God. They enter Jesus' prayer.
Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone.
The moment is over; the prayer is finished. Jesus is alone.
But is he alone?
Jesus has talked to God and God has talked to him.
Jesus has looked at God and God has looked at him.
Jesus has loved God and God has loved him.
They know each other.
Jesus is ready to head towards Jerusalem. He is ready to suffer, die, and be buried. He is ready to rise in glory.
God will not dwell on the mountain. Jesus carries the encounter with him.
And so do Peter and John and James. God has spoken to them, too. They have encountered God, too. In that prayer, God says, "Listen to him," God says.
"Listen to Jesus." This is what we do when we read the Bible. This is how we pray. We wonder if, when we pray, our appearance changes. Do we appear to God the way God knows us? Do we appear to God clothed in dazzling white, the way we were at our Baptism, that moment when we receive the Risen Life of Christ? When we pray are we gathered into the Holy Spirit? We encounter God. We know each other.
"Listen to Jesus."
We do listen.
We have listened.
We will listen.
All time of God together.