Saturday, February 23, 2013

Second Sunday of Lent -- Transfiguration--Flannery O'Connor-- A Peacock

When one actually pays attention to the arrangement of Scripture Readings during the various Seasons of the Church Year, it is obvious that there was a plan in mind. I have come to understand that every year I can count on a gospel about the Transfiguration on the 2nd Sunday of Lent. And during the Season of Advent, I can count on a gospel about John the Baptist on the 2nd Sunday of Advent. And then if one is really observant about the Scripture Readings, he/she will find that often the first reading and the gospel on Sundays are very close to one another in theme.

This 2nd Sunday of Lent is special in lots of ways, at least it is for me. I cannot but think of Flannery O'Connor on this weekend. Although at first her writing was a challenge to me (high school days), I have come to understand that she and her writing are very profound.

One of Flannery O'Connor's short stories, The Displaced Person, comes to mind for me in regard to the Transfiguration. In this story a priest, Fr. Flynn, is responsible for placing a polish refugee, Mr. Guizac, with Mrs. McIntyre, a diary farm owner. The pole does so well on the farm that McIntryre calls Guizac her salvation, but she is not favorable towards him when the pole becomes interested in a black girl, a daugther of one of McIntrye's black servants. But one day when Fr. Flynn is there and expounding on spiritual things, one of the last peacocks on the farm displays his tail feathers in all his glory. Flynn doesn't miss his change to explain that this glory of the peacock is like the transfiguration.

Most of us monks have read Flannery O'Connor. And therefore there are times when a symbol or an image says so much more than words can say. Our Br. Jerome has a way of doing this all the time in our chapel. And so years ago, when banners were still in vogue, Br. Jerome expressed the beauty of the Transfiguration with a banner that he made. I must admit that this was most striking for me at the time when this banner was so new. Below are some photos of this banner.

This banner first appeared for the Resurrection and this had made me think about why the scripture scholars decided to place the gospel of the Transfiguration during Lent -- early Lent. Although I am sure there is a better explanation than the one I am going to suggest, I find it an awesome thing to already look ahead to the Resurrection. And that is pretty much my understanding of placing the Transfiguration gospel during early Lent. It is like saying: "Hang in there during this Lenten Season, for the Transfiguration is what you have to look forward to. It is an awesome thing." The 2nd Sunday is like a preview of what is to come and an incentive to keep one on the right track -- to not get weary from the journey. It is encouraging.

Below is the parallel banner that was used with the peacok. I do remember these two banners as being striking in a simple way -- lots of color.

Lastly, one would think that these banners came out of the 1960's -- not so -- they were done in the 1970's!

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