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Arise and Shine: Luke 9:28B-36

You’ve read and heard the Transfiguration narrative before. But this blog post isn’t going to be what you know, because we’ve heard it all before.

You’ve probably used the Transfiguration as an image in a closing retreat talk about “coming down from the mountain.”

Maybe it was part of a session you attended (or gave) about witnessing God’s glory. It was a call to evangelization to share the glory you saw with others.

I’ve done those talks and heard those talks. When I was a freshman in high school, my youth minister spoke to us before we went home from a retreat. With teary eyes, he shared that witnessed a sort of “transfiguration,” and that we weren’t going back to the “real world,” but that we were in the “real world” on retreat.

It really moved me. It also made me sad. And I simply waited until I could go back up that mountain.

St. Luke’s Detail

As I read through the Gospel before Mass last week, I caught something new. It was a detail that I’ve missed every time I’ve read the narrative. It’s a detail that only St. Luke gives to us:

Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep, but becoming fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.Luke 9:32, NAB

Peter, James, and John go with Jesus to pray and are falling asleep. Sound familiar? This same situation happens in the Garden of Gethsemane. Apparently, this trio was strikingly similar to the teens in your youth group that always grab the back wall during adoration and snore through prayer.

I can’t blame them. They probably went with Jesus many times to pray. Jesus spent 40 days in the desert praying, so it stands to reason that these weren’t short prayer sessions. They are falling asleep, caught in the routine. And they almost miss it. They almost miss the glory.

Missing Glory

Are you sleeping in your youth group, missing the “mountain top experience” in the ordinary? Peter, James, and John weren’t expecting the Transfiguration; they were expecting routine prayer. The common, everyday experience. The “real world.”

Kind of like when we pay so much attention to God’s glory as it’s revealed on a retreat, or a conference, or at a camp.

But when it comes to…

Life Nights…

Bible studies…

High school lunches…

A conversation waiting for a teen’s parents to pick them up…

…We find ourselves locking into a routine and falling asleep. We think back to the places where we are confident we can see God’s glory and risk missing it in the details. We risk missing the revelation of God’s love and glory because we are tired, apathetic, and just going through the motions.

Sleepy Catholics

This indifference isn’t just a ministry thing. It is a discipleship thing. Are you missing Christ in the details? In your friendships? In your spouse? At your day job? In your kids? Where has the heaviness of routine made you tired?

I reject the notion that specific places, events, or ministry moments are the “real world.” We live in the real world, and the real world is messy. It is broken, but not without grace. God’s grace and glory still shine through the places the real world is cracked and bleeding. But if our eyes are only fixed on the places we expect to see miracles, we will miss the thousands of places they are revealed to us, every day.

Don’t get tired because of your routine. Don’t buy into the lie that God’s grace is “out there” but not right here. Right now, somewhere a priest is celebrating Mass. Do you think the grace of God among us in the Eucharist isn’t spilling over for thousands of miles around, even if people don’t realize it? The Church is the sacrament of salvation to the world – by her very presence; Christ can pour grace out for conversion, for healing, and for peace. And if you receive the Eucharist every Sunday or even daily, do you think that grace evaporates the moment you walk out the doors of your sanctuary space? We gather to be sent, but the grace of Christ goes with us and is still revealed to us.

Don’t fall asleep. We know the places we will find Christ and see His glory, but in the details – in the tiny places we overlook in the “real world,” well, we will experience Him there, too.

Don’t grow weary. Grace is in the details.

About the Author

Joel Stepanek

I spent most of my 8th grade year in detention because there wasn’t a dare I wouldn’t accept. But in high school, my youth minister dared me to follow Christ and I haven’t looked back. I love all things Wisconsin, especially the Green Bay Packers. I can probably eat more cheese than you. (Please don’t dare me to prove it.) Follow me on Twitter and Instagram at @LT_Jstepanek.

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