Imagine if Jesus suddenly came to you right now. In person. The risen Christ standing before you and looking you right in the eye. What would you think? What would you feel? How would you respond?
This is worth thinking about. Because every time we pray and receive the sacraments Jesus is coming to meet us. We may not see him with our eyes but he is truly and substantially present. In his own words, "I am with you always" (Matthew 28.20).
One problem we have as Christians is that we do not exercise the "eyes of faith." Faith is seeing through the eyes of the heart. St. Augustine spoke of the Christian life as "the healing of the heart's eye through which we see God."
Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up to a high mountain.
Faith is choosing to believe in the presence of Jesus even when all evidence is to the contrary. It is deeper than our thoughts and feelings. It is digging deep into the realm of heart and spirit where we know that God is with us.
In the Eastern rite churches, they call this gaze of faith "extreme attention." It is being profoundly attentive to the reality of Jesus among us. The Holy Spirit will waken us from our spiritual slumber if we ask. We only need to remind ourselves over and over "Jesus is present with me, loving me, here and now."
Lent is a time that we need to face Jesus in faith. We need to let Jesus examine us. Examine our heart, mind, words and actions. Examine our motives. Our relationships.
Examine the profound mystery of our lives. Because the truth is that Jesus is already looking. He sees us as we really are. Everything.
If we really return the gaze of Jesus in prayer we will make a wonderful discovery. He looks at us with the eyes of love. He beholds us with a heart overflowing with compassion and mercy.
Faith will always lead us to the recognition that we are loved. And divine love transforms us. Renews us. Makes us the people we were created to be.
Faith leads us to see God as God really is. It allows Jesus to purify our spiritual eyes. This is the meaning of the words "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Matthew 5.8).
We are blessed abundantly when we see God by faith. The great quest of human life is to perceive and experience God as God really is. Then we can proclaim with St. John in truth, "God is love" (1 John 4.16).
In this week's Gospel we read, "Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them" (Mark 9.2).
This Lenten season Jesus wants to take us up "a high mountain" and reveal to us who he is really is. Then our vision of Jesus will be transfigured. We will see him in a new and deeper light. As the King and Lord of all creation. As the Great Lover of all mankind. As the Ever-Present One.
Take the journey. Meet Jesus face to face. Have a heart-to-heart encounter with our loving Lord.
Take to heart the inspiring words of St. Peter Julian Eymard, "Go to your adoration as one would go to heaven, to the divine banquet. Tell yourself, 'Our Lord will give me an audience of grace and love. He has invited me; he is waiting for me; he is longing for me.'"
This Lent, meet the loving gaze of Jesus Christ. Be transformed by Divine Love.