LISTEN TO JESUS
Christians of all times have felt attracted by the scene traditionally called «the transfiguration of the Lord». However for those of us who belong to modern culture, it’s not that easy to penetrate the meaning of the story that has been redacted with images and literary resources appropriate for a «theophany» or revelation from God.
However Luke the evangelist has introduced details that allow us to discover more realistically the message of an episode that for many today seems strange and unlikely. From the start it indicates that Jesus ascends with his closest disciples to the top of a mountain simply «to pray», not to contemplate a transfiguration.
It all happens during Jesus’ prayer: «As Jesus was praying, the aspect of his face was changed». Jesus, deeply withdrawn, welcomes his Father’s presence and his face is changed. The disciples perceive something of his most profound and hidden identity. Something that can’t be captured in ordinary daily life.
In the life of Jesus’ followers there weren’t lacking moments of clarity and certainty, of joy and of light. We don’t know what happened on the top of that mountain, but we know that in prayer and silence it’s possible to glimpse in faith something of Jesus’ hidden identity. This prayer is a source of a knowledge that can’t be gotten from books.
Luke says that the disciples hardly figured out anything, since they «were heavy with sleep» and only «when they woke up» did they capture something. Peter only knows that it’s very good to be there and that this experience should never end. Luke says that «he did not know what he was saying».
That’s why the scene culminates with a voice and a solemn command. The disciples find themselves covered in a cloud. They’re afraid since all this is way beyond them. However from that cloud comes a voice: «This is my Son, the Chosen One. Listen to him». Listening should be the first attitude of the disciples.
We Christians today urgently need to «interiorize» our religion if we want to revive our faith. It’s not enough to hear the Gospel in a distracted, routine and worn-out way, without any desire to listen. It’s also not enough to listen intelligently only trying to understand.
We need to listen to Jesus alive in the most intimate part of our being. Everyone – preachers and faithful people, theologians and readers – we need to listen to God’s Good News, not from outside but from within. Let God’s word descend from our head to the heart. Our faith would be stronger, more joyful, more contagious.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf