March 13, 2022; Luke 9: 28b-36; 2nd Sunday of Lent
In today’s gospel Jesus takes Peter, John, and James up onto a mountain. There they see his glory. On the mountain everything is good. Jesus is bathed in light, he speaks to Moses an Elijah, and a voice from heaven proclaims him as God’s son. What a sight! What a place! It is no wonder that Peter wants to set up tents and stay there. But the disciples cannot stay on the mountain. They must come down and return to their normal lives. When they descend the mountain, the gospels tell us the first thing that they encounter is a boy possessed by a demon. On the mountain everything is glory, down at sea level, not so much. On the mountain, it is all goodness and light. In our everyday lives we often struggle with evil. And at times evil has the upper hand. There are circumstances where we stand helpless before it.
I believe that many of us here today feel such helplessness as we watch Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. We stand in disbelief as international boundaries which have been in place since the Second World War are set aside by unjust aggression, as the infrastructure of an independent country is devastated by bombardment, as thousands of innocent people are displaced and killed. If you think the way that I do, you support our government’s efforts with other governments to curtail the aggression and to punish the aggressor. But as an individual, it is hard not to feel helpless, to stand in shock at the ongoing violence that is destroying so many lives and the tranquility of our world.
Luckily for us as Christians, there is a way that we can oppose the violence in Ukraine. This because as Christians we have more than one way to fight evil. If we are able, we are called to confront evil and defeat it. This is what the Ukrainians are doing by taking up arms to defend their country. But here in Bainbridge we cannot take up arms to fight for Ukraine. What we can do is stand in solidarity with those who fight evil. We can do this in concrete ways.
If during this Lenten season you have taken on a penance of fasting, when you feel hungry, you can connect your hunger to the hunger of those in Ukraine who cannot access adequate food because of the violence. If there is something in your life that makes you afraid, a development in your family or at work, a threatening illness, you can take that fear and unite it to those in Ukraine who live in constant fear of bombardment and death. If there is an area in your life where you struggle to hope because of the death of a loved one or the collapse of a marriage through divorce, you can join that struggle to those in Ukraine who struggle to believe that their country can remain independent and free.
Standing in solidarity with those who face evil does not turn back Russian tanks. But the solidarity that we adopt is not trivial or insignificant. When we identify our hunger, fear, and hope with those in Ukraine, we reveal who are and what we believe, and our solidarity becomes a prayer. And since we cannot live on the mountain, it is a prayer that that rises up from this broken world, beseeching our God to remember us and to deliver us from evil.