There is so much contained in our gospel today we could spend the whole day discussing it.
So I would like to concentrate on a single word spoken by God the Father to Peter, James and John…out of the cloud -this is my beloved Son on whom my favor rests, listen to Him, listen.
We live in an age of noise and sound so much sound that it is difficult to listen…I would suggest that this Lent we take God’s command seriously and listen.
Listen to each other, which is not always easy. Listening is an arduous art. You see most conversations are not conversations at all. Either they are monologues where someone waits patiently until the other person has finished, then says exactly what they would have said if the other person had not said a word. Or conversations become debates where a person does not listen to another but only in order to disagree or find fault, to intercept, to destroy.
To listen is to give yourself totally. To put yourself into the others mind and the others heart. Not just hearing words but listening to a human person. The problem is to listen is to risk, to risk your precious time often when you can least afford it. When you listen you take on other people’s problems when you have enough of your own. It means getting involved, for if you listen, you open yourself to your family, to those around you, your coworkers.
To listen, really listen is an act of love. It is wonderfully human and splendidly Christian. To be where another can reach out to you, and you share not words, but yourself.
I would suggest that during Lent you make time to listen to Christ. This is the command of the Father from the cloud. Listen to Him. This is what Peter, James and John were ordered to do. Why? Because here is at once God’s Son and God’s revelation, as St. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Hebrews. In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by a Son.
This is not pious poetry – it is profound truth.
Jesus is God’s revelation to us. He is the point of personal contact between God and us. How does Jesus speak to us? Vatican II rings loud and clear. Christ is present in His word since it is He Himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the church. Do you believe that? Do you really believe it when the reader says this is the word of the Lord? If you do, how do you listen? As attentively as Moses on Mt. Sinai when he received the Ten Commandments? As open to God’s word as the teenage Virgin of Nazareth? Do you marvel like His towns people at the words that fall from Jesus’ lips? Or has repetition dulled our appetite and Christ is less charismatic then Oprah Winfrey, less exciting than Kim Kardashian.
Listening to Jesus in not the same as listening to others. The same intensity, yes, the same openness, but a greater risk. When the Father told Peter, James and John to listen to Jesus, He was saying obey Him. Do what He tells you…follow Him. If you really listen to Jesus in the proclaimed word you have a fair chance of hearing Him in your everyday life. Not a vision but Jesus speaking in your heart, as truly as anyone you love profoundly speaks to your heart. Our God is not imprisoned in a book, even in a book of His own inspiring. God speaks to us in the world around us, as the Psalmist told us, the heavens are telling the glory of God and the firmament proclaims His handiwork.
God could fashion nothing unless it imaged some perfection of His. There is no blade of grass, no flower, no range of mountains, and no sea that does not speak of God. If I miss their message it is because I am not tuned into God. I am not listening.
God also speaks to us in our loneliness, our pain, our suffering when nothing is going right. Only by listening in desperation do we hear God speak. Not explaining, not defending, not justifying…only saying trust Me. I am closer to you now than ever before. Every Gethsemane is My garden, every Calvary is My cross.
If you want to do something for Lent, if you want to share in the dying and rising of Jesus, forget the diet and the giving up. Simply listen. Listen to one another. Listen to Christ in the proclaimed word and listen to the word of God in the world around you.
Obey the command of God and listen.