By Fr. Bob

2nd Sunday of Lent C

The Transfiguration is an amazing event – literally the glory of heaven witnessed on earth.  The incredible events come in fast succession. The appearance of Jesus’ face changes, his clothes become dazzling white, and suddenly beside him are Moses and Elijah.  It culminates with a cloud descending upon them and a voice that comes from heaven saying, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”

And of course, why would we not want to listen to him?  He has the words of everlasting life.  To hear the words of Christ is to be surrounded by goodness, love and peace.  It should be what we cling to more than any other thing in the world.  This is why we gather on Sunday.  And if the music ministry does their job, the readers do theirs, the altar servers do their job as well, and if I do not screw it up too much, you too should leave this morning pumped up, thinking, “Yes, I will listen to him!”  But if you are like me, sometime this week you are going to think about someone in a certain way or do something you should not have, and you will wonder, “What happened here?   Why am I not listening to him?”

There is no shame or at least no singularity in all this.  The apostles act the same way.  Don’t you think that Peter was fired up after the Transfiguration?  There could be no doubt his confession of faith had been true.   Jesus really was the Messiah they have prayed for.  Don’t you think he was ready to listen to him?  I am sure that he would never imagine that perhaps just weeks later, he would be denying Jesus three times as he was led away to the crucifixion.

What happens between “listen to him” and our sins, which only occur because we do not listen to Christ?  Everything.  That voice of the Lord that seemed so crystal clear on Sunday is swallowed by a cacophony, the sounds that make up the rest of our lives:  our deadlines, our homework, our relationships, fears and pressures.  They make such noise the voice of Jesus recedes into the background as we give primacy of heart to the immediate and not to the divine.

It is not enough to listen to God.  We need something more intentional. We must be active listening for God, even pro-actively listening.  We must consciously look for and hear God in every situation, to seek him where he may be found.   We need a desirous listening that wants to single out the voice of Jesus among so many others.

So how will we find him?  How can we develop this desirous listening?  I have three humble suggestions.  First is to be aware of the ordinary graciousness of God.  I firmly believe that God created everyone and everything.  God’s DNA is present in every encounter.  Therefore the Lord is never hidden, never silent for those with ears to hear and eyes to see.  When someone hands you a cup of coffee and shares a genuine smile with you, when someone helps with homework or asks sincerely how you are doing, God is there.  Every startling blue sky and crisp newly fallen snow is a reminder that this is God’s world we are occupying.  When we become more aware of God’s presence, when we are in tune with the song that God has placed in the world, then we will “listen to him” for we will know that Christ is near, vibrant and alive and not lost among the busyness of our lives.

Secondly, there is prayer.  How are we to listen to Christ without spending time with the Good Shepherd?  How are we to answer his call if we cannot recognize his voice?  In prayer, we make space for God that God might be present to us all day.   Take the time to settle down with the Lord. Let Christ’s word penetrate deeply, listen to it carefully and immerse yourself in his peace and love.  Then your whole day might be a prayer, a reflection of a world shot through with God.  For example, just read something from the New Testament every morning and you will be amazed how relevant that passage to be all day long.  But if you really want your prayer to be successful, then don’t forget to… do nothing.  Someone once told me that Jesus is very polite, if you keep talking, he will not interrupt you.  We need time and silence to allow the word of God to dwell deeply within us, to be immersed in it.  We will never be able to listen to him unless we take the time to hear him.

Finally, we must listen to one another with our hearts more than our ears if we are truly to follow Christ.  It seems to me that Jesus was always a gentle listener, who gave his heart over to everyone he encountered.    Have you ever spoken to someone and been sure that nothing else mattered in the world to that person than you and what you were saying?  Their very action of attentive listening mattered more than anything they might have said in response because the way you were heard was the demonstration of their love.  It is heartfelt listening.  We will listen to Jesus if what we hear emanates from the heart of the one talking to us.  To listen to Jesus we must listen like him.  Not every conversation say about baseball need be a heartfelt conversation, at least not until September.  But I challenge you to have two heartfelt conversations a day and you will find yourself closer to the person to whom you are listening and to the Lord.

Peter, James and John witnessed something wonderful on the mountain as we will when we celebrate Easter again.  Our task is to bring the glory of the mountain to the everyday of the valley.  To keep Christ before us always.  But there is a way that can guarantee our success.  “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”