St Stephen Lewisham
24th February 2013
‘In a Different Light’ [Lent 2 Year C]
Have you ever said the words ‘I have come to see things in a different light’?
Most of us have said such a thing from time to time, when we’ve had a change of mind about someone or something; or rather having had our minds changed. Up till then we have held a certain opinion. Then an experience, or perhaps someone, has expressed a different view, which has made us think again – because what they’ve said has shed a different light upon the person, or subject, in question.
To understand why a different light should make such a difference to our understanding we should take a lesson from the theatre. In each case, the lighting makes a critical difference. If there is just not enough light being shed upon the actors, then we, as the audience, will quickly lose interest. On the other hand to flood the whole stage indiscriminately with light throughout the performance is just as bad as too little light. It’s the job of the lighting-manager and the producer to ‘get it right.’ The same applies to Revelation. We lose interest.
That is why the story of the Transfiguration of our Lord in the Gospel is so important. It tells of the effect which ‘enlightenment’ (as one might call it) had upon Peter, James and John and doubtless on Jesus Himself. For in Jesus was and is not only God but a human being – and in this life anyway, human beings are always capable of enlightenment. St Luke tells us that ‘Jesus increased in wisdom’. There’s no reason to suppose this increase ever came to a halt some time during His earthly life. It was an ongoing process.
That’s what ‘Revelation’ is usually like. Not a single blinding flash making the whole truth apparent in a moment, as happened to St Paul. More often revelation and enlightenment come to us gradually, like a spotlight slowly coming-up one actor to draw the audience’s attention towards him, whilst temporarily fading-out the spotlight on another to distract their attention from him for the time being.
So, as the Passion and Death and Resurrection of Jesus came closer and closer, the Transfiguration enabled Him to make the Apostles focus more and more on that pivotal aspect of His ministry. .
Until then, their knowledge of Jesus stemmed from His teaching, His miraculous power, and His compelling personality. But now the time had come to draw their attention away from those things and focus them His impending Passion – which He, Moses and Elijah discussed.
So the spotlight was turned away from Jesus the Teacher, Jesus the Healer, or Jesus the Man, and direct it onto Jesus the incarnate God, the sacrificial Lamb, the Divine Saviour, Who would thereby atone for the sins of the world – both by the death which He would suffer, and the Resurrection which succeeded it
That’s the Revelation, the Enlightenment which the three Apostles received at the Transfiguration; and that’s the ‘highlight’ which we too should be aware of, and following, during this Lenten season.
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