Listen to Jesus
Christians of all times have felt drawn to the occurrence traditionally called “The Transfiguration of the Lord.” But we of the modern culture find it difficult to understand deeply the meaning of an account whose writer employed images and literary devices proper to a “theophany” or the revelation of God. The evangelist Luke, however, has inserted details that allow us to discover more realistically the message of an episode that many people today find strange and unbelievable. At the outset he tells us that Jesus goes with his closest disciples to the top of a mountain simply “to pray,” not to contemplate a transfiguration.
Everything happens during Jesus’ prayer: “while he was praying his face changed in appearance.” Jesus, deeply recollected, welcomes his Father’s presence, and his face changes. The disciples perceive something of his deepest and hidden self. It is something that cannot be grasped in the ordinary life of everyday.
Moments of clarity and certainty, of joy and light, are not lacking in the life of Jesus’ followers. We do not know what happened on the top of that mountain, but we know that it is possible, starting from faith, to glimpse in prayer and silence something of the hidden identity of Jesus. This prayer is a source of knowledge that cannot be obtained from books.
Luke says that the disciples are hardly aware of anything, for “they had been overcome by sleep,” and only on “becoming fully awake” did they catch sight of something. Peter only knows that it is good to be there and that such experience should never end. Luke says that “that he did not know what he was saying.”
That is why the scene culminates with a voice and solemn command. The disciples see themselves enveloped in a cloud. They are frightened because all of that is beyond them. From the cloud, however, comes a voice: “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” Listening has to be the first attitude of the disciples.
We Christians today urgently need to “interiorize” our religion if we want to rekindle our faith. It is not enough just to listen to the Gospel in a distracted, routine and same old tired way, without a desire really to listen. An intelligent listening that is preoccupied with understanding only is not enough either.
We need to listen to Jesus who is alive in our innermost self. All of us, preachers and faithful people, theologians and lectors, need to listen to God’s Good News, not from outside but from inside. Let his words come down from our heads up to the heart. Our faith would be stronger, more joyful, more contagious.
José Antonio Pagola
February 24, 2013
2 Lent (C)