After a week of ashes, the Church then gives us a powerful image of glory. In next Sunday’s Gospel, we are brought to the top of the mountain, where Jesus transfigures himself, standing alongside Moses and Elijah, who represent all of Jewish tradition. This week, then, invites us to look far ahead, to a glorious climax of our lives.
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
So begins one way the priest greets the congregation at Mass. This simple phrase contains two words that define Christian experience grace and peace. Each of these words gives us a glimpse of the glory that God desires for us.
How do we think of grace? We can easily think of it as a thing, when, for example, we talk about gaining grace or receiving grace. However, the primary meaning of grace does not refer to any particular thing, but rather to being in a relationship. Grace is the unexpected and undeserved kindness that God showers upon us out of divine love. Grace puts us in a favorable relationship with God and it begins our sharing in God’s life. Grace is the beginning of the glory God shares with us!
Peace is an effect of grace. Once this basic relationship is secure, once we know the love of God, then the traumas and problems of our lives take on a different perspective. More importantly once we are secure in the love of God, then we are free to be agents of peace and love toward those around us.
Grace and peace, dimensions of the transformed life God offers us, point to a vision of humankind itself transformed: that time when all of us live God’s love fully, and all of us express that love without restriction. Jesus, transfigured, implants in us now the seeds that will flower into eternal life.
When have you found the most peace in your life?
Identify some situation that brings you conflict and distress. What does it involve, a person, a troublesome arrangement? With the help of God’s grace and power, try to develop a plan to bring resolution and peace to this conflict sometime during this Lenten season.
May the Lord support us all the day long, till the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done!
Then in His mercy may He give us a safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at last!
(John Henry Cardinal Newman)