Sunday Reflection – Listen to Him
Listen to Him
Last Sunday we were with Jesus on the Mount of Temptation. Today we see him on the Mount of Transfiguration (Luke 9:28-36). It’s such a contrast of experiences, from temptation to the vision of divine glory. He took with him Peter, John and James and went up the mountain to pray. Climbing the mountain is a struggle, but when the summit is reached it’s worth it. One now gets a panoramic view of the winding of rivers, the meeting of roads, the outline of fields and coastline. It’s an experience that opens up the mind. The poet, William Blake, described it admirably.
“Great things happen when men and mountain meet
This is not done while jostling in the street.”
It is not surprising that, in the bible, mountains are associated with divine encounters. It was on a mountain that Moses received the commandments, Elijah experienced a mystical meeting with God, and Jesus delivered the great sermon which is the charter of Christian living. The three apostles were granted a tiny glimpse of divine glory, something they would never forget. Moses and Elijah, although clothed in glory, were talking about the passing of Jesus which would happen in Jerusalem. Peter would have stayed there forever but it wasn’t to be. They had to come down to jostling in the street of stern reality. However, memory kept the experience alive. The same three apostles witnessed the dreadful agony of Jesus in Gethsemane. Later, as pillars of the early Church, they experienced many difficult times. The Second Letter of Peter lets us know how they tapped into this special bank of memory. “We were with him on the holy mountain” (2 Pet. 1:18). The voice from above which the apostles heard affirmed the identity of Jesus and the importance of listening to his teaching. “This is my Son, the Chosen One. Listen to him.”
Listen to me
In this technological age there are many voices competing for our attention. Remember that Jesus warned us that when the blind lead the blind, both fall into the pit. Some of this false leadership has serious consequences. We can see from the voices of Russia regarding the invasion of Ukraine that truth is the first victim of war. As we saw last Sunday, lies are the chief weapon of the devil.
Lent is a good time for asking ourselves who directs our lives. The Shepherd Psalm reminds us that the voice of the Lord guides us along the right path. But are we listening to the Lord? We are very aware nowadays how much our physical diet affects our state of health. But are we equally sensitive to the effect of our mental diet on our spiritual health? Anybody who feeds the mind with a diet of pornography or noisy, violent films or games is asking for trouble. A serious Lent may mean cutting back on the time we give to compulsive radio, obsessive television and internet addiction. Some people recommend a Digital Detox Day once a week. Even a Digital Detox Hour each day might be a good start. We need to learn how to listen to God, to listen attentively to other people and even learning how to listen to our own inner feelings. To listen with attention is the first step in loving.
Mother Teresa’s Business Card
When Saint Teresa of Kalkota became internationally known she met with many world leaders. She was handed many Business Cards with the promise of financial help if she needed cash for any project. In return, she would give her own Business Card, five short lines. “The fruit of silence is prayer: the fruit of prayer is faith: the fruit of faith is love: the fruit of love is service: and the fruit of service is peace”. Everybody seeks inner peace. It cannot be bought. It’s like trying in vain to grab hold of a butterfly. One must be still and let it land on the hand. This stillness creates the space for prayer … which develops faith … which enkindles the fire of love … which reaches out in service.
Pray for the gift of silent listening to the Lord. In our busy, noisy world today it is difficult to listen attentively. People flee from silence by turning up the volume or inserting earphones. Many years ago the poet, T.S.Eliot, wrote that people have “Knowledge of speech, but not of silence/ Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.” His observation is far truer today.
Gratitude is the heart of prayer
The apostles Peter, John and James remained steadfast through the dark days by remembering that day of vision when, as Peter recalled, “We were with him on the mountain.”
One of the most helpful books I ever read was called “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp. She is married to a pig farmer, mother of a young family while working as a journalist, but at the end of each day she reflected and made a note of one gift of God or blessing she received that day. It inspired me to do the same. I miss an odd day. I used to note it in my diary but rarely do it now. This Lent I have resolved to use the diary again. One blessing is enough to record each day as you might need any other gift for tomorrow’s gratitude. This quiet moment of gratitude at the end of the day will greatly increase your awareness of God’s presence in your life.
One final thought. If you think you are a million miles from God, guess who moved! During Lent, come back to God. “This is my Son, the Chosen One. Listen to him”
Prayer of the day
O God, who have commanded us to listen to your beloved Son, be pleased, we pray, to nourish us inwardly by your word, so that, with spiritual sight made pure, we may rejoice to behold your glory.
Br Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap.