I was touched by the beauty and simplicity of this written homily from Oz, at St. Mary’s in Exile (SMX) community/ congregation in
Terry Fitzpatrick – SMX – Homily March 19-20
The message of Jesus in today’s gospel challenges such attempts to guarantee an encounter with the divine or the ground of our being. Peter in today’s gospel wants to make camp on the mountain. He wants to build 3 tents, 3 material structures, and capture this experience for as long as possible. As Jesus demonstrates, this encounter cannot be contained or restrained within any structure. As he says to the woman at the well in John’s gospel, we don’t need a temple to worship God. Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship God neither on this mountain nor in
. The hour is coming when true worshippers will worship God in spirit and truth. Jerusalem
For God is spirit, and those who worship, must worship in spirit and truth. A central message of Lent is demonstrated in the opening ritual on Ash Wednesday, when we are signed with Ash with the words, “Remember you are but Dust, and unto Dust you shall return. A sharp reminder, that all of life is impermanent. All is passing away. If we embrace this, says the Buddha, then we let go of most of our suffering. Constantly embracing this knowledge that all is impermanent, we embrace a life of letting go, knowing that “This too will pass”. The Buddhist Pali word, Anicca, this too will pass. As we look at all of life, we might say to ourselves, this too will pass, “let go”.
As Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh so wisely shares “If you suffer, it is not because things are impermanent, It is because you believe things are permanent”. Life is constantly inviting us to Let Go – don’t cling to this – this body, this house, this job, this relationship and this everything – it is not permanent.
It is not an easy thing to do for us humans, who seek for security and happiness in the external material world and again need to be reminded, Over and over – don’t cling to this – it too is passing.
But there is another aspect to Lent, to the universal story, the spiritual journey. We could equally be signed on Ash Wednesday with candle wax, with the words, remember you are light and unto light you shall return; or with sea water “remember you are the wave and unto the ocean you shall return”.
A reminder that behind the form is the formless, one life, the ground of our being, God.
As Peter says in the gospel today “It is good for us to be here”-experiencing the ground of Being, the one light. It is something we can experience at all times, not just on mountain tops, but in all places; this, the formless one life behind all form. This is our true nature, who we really are.
For 12th century mystic Meister Eckhart there are few aspects more important in the spiritual life than to awaken to this divine ground within, to flow into it and merge wit it, like the wave into the ocean. The light of God dwells within us, which means that we, like Christ, are also the light of the world (Matthew 512). The discovery of this inner radiance that saturates our very being is the one important taste in life, according to Eckhart, who calls out to us from the 12th century, “ Awaken, discover who you are ! Close your eyes and see the radiant light within you.”
Behind the impermanence of our life is the permanent one life that we really are immersed in-life, like the wave into the ocean…