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Monday, August 6, 2018

Spirituality: “The Third Something” by Richard Rohr

The Transfiguration is surely an archetypal and mystical account. The details are all in place. Taking ordinary people “up a mountaintop by themselves,” sleepy men are about to be awakened. The stage is fully set for encounter and for divine intimacy. The “apparition” includes the two symbolic figures of Judaism – the law and the prophets – Moses and Elijah. Then Jesus appears between them “in dazzling white” that is always the inclusion of everything, all colors, as it were.

In seeing the reconciling third one, Jesus, the other two disappear. He synthesizes and moves beyond all dualisms. After this awesome and consoling epiphany, there is mention of “a cloud that overshadows” everything. We have what appears to be full light, yet there is still darkness. Knowing, yet not knowing. Getting it, yet not getting it at all. Isn’t that the very character of all true Mystery and every in-depth encounter?

The verbal messages are only two” “Beloved Sonship” and “Don’t talk about it.” Clearly, Peter, James, and John experienced Jesus’ beloved sonship, but also their own – in being chosen for such a mountaintop moment. Peter’s response is the response of everyone: “How good it is to be here!” yet it also expresses an emotion that is described as being “overcome with fear and awe” – wondrous fascination and attraction together with a stunning sense of one’s own littleness and incapacity, both at the same time. That is what holy moments always feel like: I am great beyond belief and I am a little dot in the universe.

This experience needs to happen only once, just as it did for Peter, James and John. That is enough. It will change everything. It is available to all and, I believe, offered to all, at one time or another. You cannot program it, but you can ask for it and should expect it. You will never be able to talk about it, not do you need to. Your ordinary shining life, different now down in the valley, will be its only and best proof.

Source: Wondrous Encounters: Scripture for Lent, pp. 43-44, slightly adapted.

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