It’s easy to focus on the wonder of Jesus going up on the mountain top with his disciples. (Why does the Lectionary identify John and not James as his brother?). But, as with all the passages, this is about how I am called through this reading.
Two verses especially catch my attention: “Arise, and do not be afraid.” and “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen [or is it ‘raised’?] from the dead.” Fear of what I experience and fear to tell. The description of my efforts to evangelize.
We’ve been watching a sitcom on Netflicks called “The Kominsky Method.” One of the main character’s Grandson comes home after being a member of Scientology for a couple of years. He says that he has left the organization but his grandfather is doubtful. Prior to this the grandfather had told his best friend that he feels like selling his business and seeking enlightenment. But first he needs to find a teacher. The grandson starts to teach him the ways of Scientology, not in a pushy way but just by introducing new terms into Grandpa’s vocabulary. Suddenly it hits you and Grandpa. Here is his teacher! Grandpa is a skeptic about most things, this included, but is willing to listen and even to try. The son is so enthused.
As the story continues, the grandfather points to a “different way” for the grandson: sales. He’s a wonderful evangelist, i.e. he’s a wonderful sales person! Somehow equivocating evangelizing with selling bothers me. Are Christians called to “sell” the Way? We are called to travel the Way; we are called to show the Way; we are called to invite people to journey on the Way. We are even asked to guide people as they find their own path on the Way. But is this “selling”? No, it is more intimate.
You can be a good sales person and not believe in your product. Really good sales persons can “sell ice to an Alaskan.” A really good salesman can talk a person into buying anything that the person, (the sucker?) doesn’t need. It’s a sign of success in our consumer society. But we BELIEVE that people do need to hear and listen to and act upon the GOOD NEWS. They truly will be better for having taken even the first step along the Way?
So why the fear? Why the hesitation? For me at least part of the answer is that I fear really connecting. I fear showing a deep inner part of me to the Other. I fear sharing my self. I fear intimacy. But connecting, showing, sharing, intimacy – that’s what it takes.
Oh God give me strength! Transfigure me or, at least, begin (or continue?) the process.