By Dylan Parker
How often do we forget that God’s will continues in today’s world? How easily do we reside in a spiritually stationary state, focusing solely on the law of the Old Testament, or reflecting on the woes of past prophets?
Certainly both the Old Testament and the concerns of prophets are good things to reflect upon, but what of the life and message of Jesus Christ?
How does Christ fit into the lives of contemporary Christians with respect to God’s ancient law and the direction of past prophets?
This coming Sunday marks the second of Lent 2009; on that day, we will reflect upon the narrative best recorded within the book of Mark concerning the transfiguration of Christ. As the story goes, Christ is visited by apparitions of Moses and Elijah — representatives of the law of God and prophecy, respectively. When Peter sees these great Old Testament figures, he excitedly begins to hurry about preparing a camp for Moses and Elijah.
However, Peter is foolishly unaware that God’s will didn’t end in law or prophecy. Unforeseen by Peter, but known and cherished by us today, is the knowledge that Christ was needed to continue God’s will in his suffering and death by crucifixion. Beyond the ancient laws given to Moses, and the warnings of prophets, Christ opened a new chapter in Christianity: a chapter of human action and love. Rather than settling on the wonders of the Old Testament as Peter intended, Christ calls us to continue the will of God.
Few contemporary Christians have sustained this new chapter of God’s will better than the 20th-century Catholic monk Thomas Merton. A conservative and silent monk during his earlier years, Merton, by the 1940s, had left his monastic silence and begun writing passionate works concerning injustices he observed in the world. Refusing to set up camp as Peter desired and remaining publicly inactive, Merton followed the footsteps of Christ speaking out against war and shedding light on domestic injustices such as the American government’s abuse and neglect of the native people of our land. However, as witnessed in Christ’s loving sacrifice for humankind and the attempts of Merton’s abbot to silence the outspoken monk, this continuation of God’s will on earth is sometimes — if not often — met with public criticism and rejection. Though the campsite with Moses and Elijah is certainly good and understandably comfortable, Christians are called to follow Christ in the continuation of God’s good will on earth.
Therefore, this second Sunday of Lent, are we to remain ignorantly behind with Peter, or steadfast with Merton? We must recognize the importance and necessity of human social action and love in the continuation of God on earth. Let us not linger behind in the camp of Moses and Elijah, but march forward in action after Jesus Christ.
(Dylan Parker is a third-year student at St. Ambrose University in Davenport whose primary study focus is philosophy. )