25 February 2018 – Second Sunday of Lent
Gospel: Mark 9:2-10
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified.
Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean.
Peter, James and John may have been frightened on the mountain but they also said “it is wonderful to be here”. At this stage of their following of Jesus they were still trying to understand who he was, and the revelation they received on the mountain must have induced great awe – as well as fear – in them. Prophets who were long dead appeared with Jesus so there was good reason for the three disciples to be discussing what “rising from the dead” meant as they came down from the mountain.
What they saw on the mountain was astounding, but the heart of the revelation was in the words “This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him”. The disciples heard God speaking to them.
Very few people have this kind of experience. But God speaks to us as surely as he spoke to the disciples on the mountain, and the injunction to listen is as relevant for us as it was for the disciples. But how do we know when God is speaking to us?
Some practice and awareness are necessary in recognizing when God speaks to us. God can speak to us both interiorly and through other people. The interior voice is quiet and easily overlooked if we are not in “listening mode”. It may be a simple sentence that keeps resurfacing, and which needs reflection before we fully understand it. It can be an insight that draws us deeper into our faith and into our understanding of the mystery of salvation, while at the same time having a practical application in our lives. Sometimes the interior voice is a moment of certainty about something, or a sudden inspiration about how to act in a certain situation.
Other people can convey thoughts to us which produce a change in how we think about someone or something, or how we see God. The other person may have no idea that they are acting as God’s messenger for us. They respond to an inspiration in what they say to us – always potentially risky in relationships, so if something has struck you in what another person says, then thank them for sharing their thoughts with you.
Whether God’s voice is interior or his message is conveyed through another person it will enter into our hearts and it will be accompanied by peace. If we are trying to listen it won’t just bounce off us as advertising slogans and common chatter does – it will stick in our consciousness. God can also speak to us through the scriptures, through liturgy, and through the circumstances of our lives.
When we are learning to be listeners, it pays to ask each night “Lord, when did you speak to me today?”. He is a good teacher of the art of listening.