Life in all its forms, shapes, and sizes is all about identity. No, it’s not; it’s all about recognition. Please wait a minute; it’s all about the more than you thought you could be.
On second thought, it’s always about all three. Identity, recognition, more of you.
After those forty-food-less days in the desert, along with Mr. Devil’s three stupid teasings, Jesus just may have realized what was unfolding in his life.
You all know about your aging mom or dad falling, and suddenly you become the parent to your parent. Anyone? Now, let’s talk about identity, recognition, more of you than you thought possible.
How about a third-grader who just cannot say his last name. Everyone in the class laughed away. He then becomes a radio announcer for many years and a Catholic priest. And I still have trouble saying my full name.
If only the purely human part of Jesus knew what was to be shown to him at the top of that mountain, he’d surely run downhill. However, with the divine part of Jesus presented and unveiled to him standing when between the greatest prophet and the greatest traveler, capped off with even more drama by a talking cloud – then I kinda think Jesus got the hint. There’s identity, recognition, and the more of his life.
I’ve mentioned before the most asked question of Jesus is not whether you’re going to heaven or not. Or, how many times you missed weekend Mass. The most asked question of Jesus is, “Who are you?” Who are you to me? Who am I to you? Who am I with you? Just think of all the identities we can place upon the Son of God.
But, what if? What if? Jesus as an adult. Finds a steady job as a carpenter, his father teaches him well. Joins a union with decent pay. Finds a good wife, couple of kids, Jesus, Jr., and MaryAnn; retire at fifty-five with a substantial pension and solid investments. Kids are now on their own, and Jesus and the misses become Arizona snowbirds between November through March. They return for Easter. Oh, wait. There is no Easter. Ahhh. Where’s Frank Sinatra singing, “Oh, the good life..”
Identity, recognition. A boy becomes a man, then dad, then grand, and sometimes even reaching great added before his name. I’m a freshly ordained priest, and my dad keeps calling me “Father.” I said to him, “We can’t keep doing this Dad. I’m Joe.” (“Hi Father. Oh, hi Father…”)
Shouldn’t have climbed that mountain, Jesus. Could’ve stayed in Arizona. That way, there’d be no crucifixion and resurrection. We wouldn’t need to come to this old church week after week. We’d merely be helpless, hopeless, reckless people. People would never, ever have heard about identity, recognition, and becoming more than they ever imagined themselves to be.
You’re having a remarkable career with upcoming promotions in the mix, and you have a “rare” form of cancer. (Why does someone always get a “rare” form of cancer instead of the ordinary kind!) You slowly become a proud cancer survivor, and you let many people know about it! Identity. Recognition.
The suffering people of Ukraine. Always in our prayers until our prayers increase with the next evening’s news. Because of their beautiful independence, they are experiencing significant interdependence. Perhaps with identities and recognitions changed forever and so much more demanded of them. And, because of this crisis, the whole wide world has learned so much more about interdependence than we ever thought possible. (McDonald’s is closed in Russia!)
All those examples and those about Jesus show us becoming more than we are or, better yet, much more than we thought we could be. That’s transfiguration. That’s a vibrant, living Catholic faith. That’s Jesus climbing up that mountain alongside his climbing companions becoming for us all the living Christ.