As a kind of follow-up to yesterday’s Gospel of the Transfiguration, we do well to reflect a little further on the Lord’s intention in leading Peter, James, and John up a high mountain. The Church teaches us His purpose in the Preface for the Second Sunday of Lent:
For after he had told the disciples of his coming Death, on the holy mountain he manifested to them his glory, to show, even by the testimony of the law and the prophets,
that the Passion leads to the glory of the Resurrection.
In this way, not only was He preparing them for the difficult days ahead but also leading them to a more mature faith, one that could see beyond the Friday of the Passion to the glory of the Resurrection.
I recently attended a diocesan workshop on evangelization and leadership development, at which the moderator, Jim Lundholm-Eades of the Leadership Roundtable, gave an outstanding presentation. In it, he gave a remarkable, concise description of the mature Christian that flows well from the Lord’s intention for his apostles:
“A mature Christian knows that Jesus is risen from the dead and he or she lives out of that knowledge and experience.”
So beautifully said! Permit a brief reflection on this.
As I have pointed out in other posts, “knowing” in the biblical sense is more than an intellectual knowing; it is an experiential knowing. To “know” that Jesus is risen from the dead is to experience that Christ is alive and changing our life, that He is present to us and leading us to a deeper relationship with the Father. It is a relationship of mutual love that is transformative and empowering.
The mature Christian is not a perfect Christian but is living a life of hope, a life of confident expectation of God’s help. He has already seen sins put death and new graces coming alive. As a result, he has come to know that this growth will continue if he cooperates with God’s grace. He has a proper sorrow for his sins and humility on account of them—but not despair or humiliation, as if God would leave him forever beset by his sins. A mature Christian cooperates with God’s grace and mercy knowing that through that grace and mercy he will win in the end.
There are, of course, still sufferings to undergo, but they can be endured with greater trust and a lively hope. The mature Christian knows that God has permitted them for a reason, and He will surely release new blessings if he walks in faith. The mature Christian is not easily unsettled by difficulties or trials; he endures them with the courage that faith has. This is because he has come to know and experience that Jesus is risen from the dead and that the final destination for those of faith is victory and glory.
The mature Christian also knows that there is a battle to engage, both personally and in the world; it is a battle for souls. However, since he knows that Jesus has risen form the dead, he knows that the outcome of the battle has already been decided; he knows which army will ultimately win. Therefore, apparent setbacks or losses are not devastating. On Good Friday all seemed lost, but Jesus rose on Sunday morning. So, too, for the Church and all who battle for the truth and choose the Kingdom of God. We preach the gospel and seek to live it both in season and out of season, whether popular or ridiculed. The mature Christian is serene because he knows that Jesus is risen from the dead and that He has already won the final victory.
Yes, a mature Christian knows that Jesus has risen from the dead and lives out of that experience. How mature are you?