Second Sunday of Lent, March 13, 2022
“Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep,
but when they were fully awake, they saw his glory …
“Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, …. Let’s make three tents….’
While he said these things,
a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid ….
“A voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is my beloved Son.
Listen to him!’” (Lk 9:32–33,34,35; emphasis mine)
Let’s breakdown the Transfiguration into the three mini-events in the above Scriptures. They show what God might do and might call us to, when we “stand in the gap for one another,” which Valerie D. Lewis-Mosley, OPA, urged in Eat the Scroll’s first Lent 2022 blogpost. But first, let’s breakdown the word, “gap.”
Some might think of the retail clothing/fashion company that started in 1969 with “Gap” stores. That new company’s target customers were on the younger side of the “generation gap” which a lot of people identified as causing the cultural eruptions of the time. Reliable sources report that when the company’s founders chose its name, that’s the “gap” they had in mind.
But another Christian once told me, what comes to mind when seeing “GAP” on people’s clothes is, “God Answers Prayer!”
When we stand in that GAP, God can “do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph 3:20). Among God’s abundant works, three are in today’s Gospel (Lk 9:28b–36).
First, God can wake us from sleep (see v. 32)—maybe the slumber of sin; maybe the drowsiness of indifference to injustice. No matter! God opens our eyes to divine glory at work in us and around us. That fresh watchfulness reveals opportunities for God to work through you, using you to pull down strongholds of evil and to build up what’s holy (see 1 Pt 5:8, 2 Cor 10:4, Phil 2:13).
Those opportunities might surprise, even frighten, you. No matter! That’s like the Apostles, “afraid” when God arrived (Lk 9:34). Challenges like that are a second way God answers prayer. See, when praying that God’s will be done, we stand in the GAP for others—or they, for us. In answer, God might shake things up and surprise us with new callings and new graces to fulfill them.
Our response, like Peter’s here, might be to suggest “better” ways. Then God might move to put our lips in a “metal tool with movable jaws that holds an object firmly in place while work is done on it.”
I mean, he might say, “Put your mouth in a vise. The only ‘movable jaws’ here should belong to my ‘Holy Vise,’ aka the Holy Spirit!” (My paraphrase of Lk 9:35, “Listen to him!”) Yes, God’s answer to prayer can mirror our reading’s third mini-event, the command to listen. Is God holding your mouth firmly in place while he works on you? No matter! If today God clamps down on you, in due time he’ll amp up the telling of Good News through you.
This Lent, does God need to open our eyes, shake us up with surprise, and put our mouths in a vise? Pray, “Bring it on!” We’ll thrive by standing in the GAP for one another.
Authored: Fr. Chuck Wood is a priest of the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon; a member of the Brotherhood of the People of Praise (a Catholic community of clergy and celibate laymen within an ecumenical Christian community begun by lay people); newsletter editor for the Association of Diocesan Liaisons to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal; and a member of the African American Catholic Community of Oregon (AACCO).
(Scripture citations from the World English Bible, a public domain translation.)