Updated: Mar 9, 2020
Deacon Mike Jones:
Saint John the Apostle Catholic Church
Second Sunday of Lent
Today’s Gospel is about transcendence. The Winter Olympics, too, are about transcendence.
In the Gospel, Matthew describes the transfiguration of Jesus as witnessed by Peter, James, and John. For the three disciples, it was an experience of Olympian proportions. For a brief time, Jesus transcended the temporal limits of human existence; everything about him revealed the glory of God. And it must have deepened the three disciples’ own longing for transcendence.
The longing for transcendence, that insatiable desire to go beyond ourselves, is part of our nature. We are made in the image of God and our deepest desire is for God. Each of our lives is a unique account of our longing and striving to transcend whatever keeps us from God. The determined desire of Olympic athletes to overcome human limitations is but a sign that points to our own desire for transcendence. We have an infinite capacity for transcendence.
Events of human accomplishment, such as the Winter Olympics, are always about transcendence. How, then, do they teach us about transcendence? In the hospitality that is demanded of the host city, we experience a kind of transcendence.
The Olympics have meaning on an even higher level, for in showing us the limits of human accomplishment, they remind us that our longing for transcendence can only be satisfied in God. There is in every great human accomplishment a mixture of joy and melancholy, a kind of tension between glory and sadness, for we know that our greatest human accomplishments cannot satisfy our longing for transcendence. We sense, albeit vaguely at times, that our capacity for transcendence is intended for God alone.
But we have something going for us that will make the difference: Christian hope.