August 9, 2020
(Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14; Matthew 17:1-9)
Things are not always as they seem. Sometimes, maybe, yes. But not always. The old adage to take time to smell the roses/flowers is something that we should still do today. Too many of us do not do enough of this. Either we are too busy (so we think) or simply do not care. We need experience what is beyond what we see.
Think of our relationships, or actually the lack thereof, of the myriad of people we pass or come in contact with each day. Do we take time to smell the roses of these people – do we take time to learn about them, not just what we see? If we are honest with ourselves and each other, we merely judge the book by the cover, we don’t take time to really see the person as they really are.
In the Middle East desert, one can still view desert dwellers. They will still use tents similar to Old Testament periods. The Tent of Meeting, the tent of the Tabernacle would have looked very similar, probably made of badger’s skin as it was commonly done. Most likely plain and dull appearance from the outside.
However, once you stepped inside, everything would have appeared much different. The first chamber was called the holy place. In that portion there would be the table of the presence, the altar of incense, and the seven-branched menorah, each of gold and of inestimable value.
The next chamber would be the holy of holies with the Ark of the Covenant which held the tablets of the Ten Commandments (you know – those things we learned in Sunday school [maybe] and probably can no longer name all ten!). On top of the Ark was the glory of God. God hovered over the Ark. No one could actually touch the Ark and live, because the holy presence of God was too pure for our sinful human touch.
All of this was hidden from the outside and could only be seen if you took the time to go in. So what looked plain, dull, unattractive, and of little worth on the outside turned out to contain the greatest of treasures on the inside.
Sometimes, in our modern world, we like to be pretentious and make things appear more impressive and attractive on the outside and on the surface than what is really on the inside. The reality is less than the appearance. Those who are humble, or merely being themselves, are less pretentious and maybe not as appealing on the outside and are much more likely to be more beautiful inside.
We like to experience things that look nice, and sometimes are disappointed. While, we avoid that which does not marvel us on the outside is the greatest treasure that we will miss.
But with God and the ways of righteousness, it’s very different. On the outside and on the surface it tends to look hard and unattractive. So, the way to the cross and of sacrifice, on the outside, looks hard. But the deeper you go, the more beautiful it becomes. The deeper you go, the more treasures you find.
So too, the deeper you go into prayer and worship, the more awesome it becomes. The deeper you go into His presence, the more glorious it becomes. The deeper you go into the love of God, the more golden it becomes.
Was it any different for Jesus? In today’s Gospel we read of His transfiguration. The three Apostles with Him must really been in awe of what they were seeing. We can tell this by Peter’s response. He is almost delirious. Keep in mind that prior to this, they have only seen Jesus on the outside!
Think of a typical man in the Middle East and the dress of the time. We might find it appalling, compared to our “modern” way of dressing. But, that is how Jesus (think God) was dressed while visiting us as a man. The various religious leaders of the time saw Him as nothing more than an average man. Even the disciples to some extent.
So, here was Jesus transfigured. They get to see Jesus as He truly is on the inside and outside! Remember what Nathanael said? “What good can come from Nazareth?” (John 1:46) However, Jesus was Jesus inside and out all the time, but they refused to see Him, because of their disbelief. His disciples slowly realized who He really is. But many simply closed their minds. We would do the same if we encountered a fellow human being who implied he was the Messiah.
How often do we do the same in our daily lives. Like I mentioned at the beginning, we simply do not take time to smell the roses. We see this magnified in systemic racism. We do the same as we do with the tents - with Jesus. Anyone knows (or should) that skin color, the way we dress, what we live in, or what we drive, yada, yada, yada …. is not the entire picture of a person. It is not what is inside. We should take time to learn what is inside. We will discover some great beauty as well as see we are different, yet the same!
Therefore, we need to go deeper. We need to go inside. We need to go beyond the surface, beyond the appearance, beyond the tent of skins. Both with our fellow humans, but especially with God! When we do, we will discover the treasures and the glory that await only those who dare to go inside! Like our tiny chapel – come inside and be surprised, and worship God while here! Go inside and you will find a treasure.
God Love You +++
++ The Most Rev. Robert Winzens
Pastor – St. Francis Chapel
San Diego, CA
Services are canceled, but someone failed to tell that to expenses that still need to be paid, and so we remain beggars. Donate if you can. May God richly bless you for it!