Home from Oz (Second Lent)

Jesus took Peter and the brothers, James and John, and led them off up a high mountain. Before their very eyes, the way Jesus looked was suddenly changed from the inside out. His face shone like the sun and his clothing became so white it was dazzling. And, lo and behold, they saw Moses and Elijah there too, in deep conversation with Jesus. (Matthew 17: 1 – 3)

I always felt sorry for Dorothy at the end of The Wizard of Oz. She tried so hard to share the wonders of her adventure, and all she got from her Aunt Em and others were bemused stares. “Sure, sure,” they said. “You got bumped on the noggin and your imagination went wild”.

Too bad someone didn’t warn her, as Jesus warns Peter, James, and John in this week’s gospel, “Do not tell the vision to anyone”. I know how Dorothy must have felt. In my early university years I went on a retreat that was life-changing. We became aware of our own spiritual depth and the surprising depth of the goofy buddies we thought we knew well. Like the apostles, we had a fresh experience of God.

And then we got home. I couldn’t wait to tell my family what I’d seen, heard, and felt. But they hadn’t been on retreat. They’d been washing dishes, mowing the lawn, paying bills, and worrying what to fix for dinner. And so my words failed. I began to wonder if it was all just a crazy dream.

Through my own experience, I’ve come to know that Jesus wasn’t afraid his followers were going to let some special secret out of the bag. He was warning them that talking about something so sacred, so soon, wouldn’t deepen the experience. It would make it seem to fade away.

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