Wednesday, August 26 2020
Today's Gospel refers to an ancient and venerable feast within the Christian liturgy: The Feast of the Transfiguration, which in some places is also known as the Feast of the Savior. This celebration is about remembering that glorious moment in which three disciples (Peter, James and John) had the opportunity to see Jesus Christ transfigured and resplendent, a moment of deep spirituality, which they would never forget in their experience with Jesus. That is why St. Peter, being very old, remembers it in his second letter (2 Peter 1: 13-21): "We hear this voice brought from heaven while we are with him on the sacred mountain."
The Transfiguration of Jesus confirmed the faith of the apostles and went to them as a light "that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the light is born in our hearts."
The Transfiguration of the Lord raises a question that is fundamental in Christianity: faith is for the apostles something bright, like immense joy, that no one can steal from them.
But today's Gospel account instructs the attitude of the disciples on their way of following Jesus. When we hear "This is my beloved Son; listen to him": This affirmation of God our father, proposes to the disciple a receptive attitude for listening. Listening not only includes the word, but also the acceptance of the new Servant of God our Father, who is nothing more than, the enlightened Jesus on the sacred mountain.
The art of listening.
Sometimes human beings no longer have time to listen. In a fast and busy life, we find it difficult to approach silently, calmly and without prejudice in our hearts to other people, with the willingness to listen to the message that person can communicate to us. Locked in our own daily problems, we pass by people, without just stopping to really listen to anyone. We could say that the contemporary human being is forgetting the art of listening to others and to each other.
In this same idea, it is not so strange that Christians have forgotten that being a believer: "is to live listening to Jesus." And yet, only from that listening does the life of a Christian take on its true meaning and originality. Even more. Only when we listen to Jesus, is when true faith in God is born in our hearts.
The experience of listening to Jesus can sometimes be disconcerting. The words of Jesus on many occasions, is not what we expected or had imagined. It may even happen that, at first, the words of Jesus in the gospel disappoint us, in our pretensions or expectations.
When we hear that Jesus says, love your enemies (we would think: “it would be that Jesus went crazy”, love who hurts me)… or when Jesus tells us in the gospel: “all that you wish for yourselves you must also wish for your neighbor”. These are hard words sometimes difficult to understand. That's why I always say being a Christian is a path of constant challenges that reminds us that no one can love God, the virgin or any other saint unless we love our neighbor first.
Then our life begins to illuminate with a new light. We begin to discover with Jesus what is the most humane way of facing life's problems. We realize where the big mistakes of our daily lives are. But we are not alone anymore! Someone close and unique, like Jesus, frees us again and again: from discouragement, wear and distrust. Jesus invites us to seek happiness in a new way, trusting unlimitedly in our Father God, despite our sin.
How do we respond today to that invitation addressed to the disciples on the mountain of transfiguration? "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him." We may have to start by raising from the bottom of our hearts that prayer repeated by the monks of Mount Athos in Greece: "Oh God, give me a heart that knows how to listen."
Let us remember these two important points of today's Gospel:
1) We must remember that we must not only listen, we must not only pray, we must also act. Saint Francis of Assisi said: "acts speak louder than words." We must have actions that speak of God's love for others. The disciples in today's gospel not only saw Jesus but did the things that Jesus commanded them.
2) The disciples were transformed along with Jesus, they changed their idea about Jesus, but they also changed. This is a personal call for each of us ... sometimes we want others to change, but we must understand that change must begin first with us.
Finally, the central point of today's Gospel text: is the order to "listen to Jesus." Listening is what characterizes a disciple, his ambition is not only to be with Jesus, but to be a servant of the truth, in a position to always listen to God in that sacred space of silence.
In this last weeks of Summer, I would like to invite everyone to be purposeful during these days about reflection and personal and spiritual discovery that are coming. May we listen to Jesus every day through the words of the gospel, through personal and community prayer, through communion and liturgy.
Together with the apostles Peter, James and John, we take advantage of the opportunity to contemplate, with calm and attention, on the presence of God and Jesus that can open us to recognize God's love, power and goodness for each one of us. Amen.