A couple of days ago one newspaper reported that the residents in Tokyo turned off all but essential electric devices in their houses to avoid a total blackout. The reporter listed many gadgets used by the Japanese, making their lives easier, more comfortable or just funnier – a toilet seat warmer included. Over the last century developing engineering, science and knowledge have enormously changed the lifestyle of people, especially in Europe and North America. But it hasn’t finished yet. We still can see new inventions, unnoticeably changing our lifestyle. We take it for granted.
Looking for convenience, comfort, easiness is one of several driving forces behind these developments. A new invention is something extraordinary, but quite quickly we treat it as a normal part of life. In 1997 I had to take a loan from my bank to buy my first computer. Mobile phones were the rich man’s toy, unaffordable for ordinary people. 15 years later computers and mobile phones seem to be an essential part of our lives. I heard on the radio this morning: ‘text us; send email to us; or – if you are an old-fashioned person, phone us’. That’s amazing: a phone call is becoming an old-fashioned way of keeping in touch.
We are not aware of our dependence on so many gadgets until a disaster happens: from a discharged battery in a mobile phone to an earthquake; the scale is different, but we experience our helplessness in quite a similar way. Last Sunday night the frame of my glasses broke. Instantly I experienced almost complete helplessness. Simple activities became hardly manageable. You don’t know how difficult it is to find a tube of Super Glue in a drawer when you have to literally put your nose into it.
Today’s gospel shows us the Apostles taking part in a somewhat incredibly and overwhelmingly uplifting event. They were so happy that they wanted to settle there. Peter even offered making tents. But he didn’t complete making his offer. The Apostles heard a voice from the cloud and everything became normal, casual. Jesus took them back to everyday life and invited them to climb another mountain with him: Calvary, the hill of his crucifixion.
Sometimes unexpected difficulties and problems happen in our lives. They are not welcomed by us and that’s hardly surprising. People in trouble react in many different ways: frustration, depression, anger, blame, resignation, escape… a whole spectrum of possible reactions. But we have to understand that convenience and comfort make us lazy: mentally, spiritually and often physically. We usually start doing something serious when we are in trouble – difficult situations push us even further. In some ways problems are God’s blessing. If we face them with faith.