The God Who Reveals and Withdraws
The Transfiguration is celebrated at different times throughout the Christian Calendar. One of those times is on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of Lent. It reminds us that Jesus told his disciples to keep his transfiguration, the manifestation of his glory, a secret as he set himself to go to his death. Jesus often did that, revealing himself through a miracle, for example, then asking for secrecy.
Describing the mysteries, or secrets, of the Kingdom of God, John S. Dunne writes in Reading the Gospel, that the mystery is eternity “showing itself and at the same time withdrawing.” He goes on to ask,
Why this hide-and-seek, this showing and withdrawing? It is perhaps the nature of a human relation with God, a relation in time with the Eternal. (66)
In this pattern of revealing and withdrawing of God, it is often in our times of loss that God seems to withdraw, and in our times of great joy that God feels so real and close. It is as though God’s presence makes everything more fully what they are, whether it is loss or joy. As Bruno Barnhart in The Good Wine: Reading John from the Centre, says,
glory is that which glows at the extremes of experience: at the height and depth of life. Everything in the world moves towards glory as its flowering, its coming to flame, its truth. (99)
May you, whether you are experiencing loss and God’s withdrawal, or joy and God’s blessing, have a sense of the Eternal’s glory which is flowering and coming to flame in your heart.
Anam Cara to the Dayspring Guiding Committee
IMAGE: Apse under the Eastern Bell Tower of the Eastern Orthodox church on Mt Tabor.
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