Listen to Him!
If you’ve been watching television for the last two weeks the scene in today’s Gospel seems a little familiar, doesn’t it? Three men standing side-by-side on top of a mountain. But, in this case, they haven’t come there to receive gold, silver, and bronze medals. Moses and Elijah have come to meet Jesus, as Peter, John, and James look on; the famous story of the transfiguration.
Actually, the Winter Olympics analogy is pretty weak, even for me. Jesus lived in the desert. I don’t think He was into winter sports. He could have lived anywhere He wanted to and you notice He didn’t choose Minneapolis of Toronto. Good for Him!
As usual, Peter, my favorite saint, gets it all wrong. He wants to build tents for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. Maybe he wants to sell tickets so people can come and see them. Of course, the point isn’t for anyone else to see the three together. It’s specifically for the three Apostles. A cloud passes over them and the voice of God booms out, “This is my beloved Son, listen to him.” Kind of like the day that Jesus was baptized.
Of course, when the cloud passes, Moses, representing the law, and Elijah, representing the prophets, are gone. The symbolism here is profound. God is telling the Apostles, along with you and me, that we no longer need the Mosiac law or the words of the prophets. All we need is the Son of God. God the Father says, “Listen to Him.” Interesting.
His Father says “Listen to Him.” At the site of His first miracle, his mother said, “Do whatever He tells you.” In John’s Gospel He even tells us Himself, “You are my friends if you do what I tell you.” I guess, maybe, we should listen. What do you think? But this listening thing can get a little complicated. It’s pretty easy to read the Scriptures and see what He’s trying to tell us…….sometimes. But not all the time. Even after all the classes I took and all the reading I’ve done, sometimes I’ll read a passage and go “huh???” What the heck is He talking about? I really hate it when that happens on a weekend I have to preach. If I only talk about the two readings, or the responsorial psalm, or last week’s Gospel, chances are I don’t get what Jesus is telling us that day.
I once went to a two day workshop put on by a priest, Eugene LaVerdier. Amazing. I can’t remember where I left my car keys ten minutes ago but I remember Eugene LaVerdier. Anyway, Fr. LaVerdier has spent his entire life studying Luke’s Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. Two books! His whole life. And he wasn’t a young guy. He spent the entire first morning talking about just the first chapter of Luke. This guy knew his Luke. But on the second day a young lady, a PSR teacher, asked him a question. He looked at her and said, “I never thought of it that way.” I thought he was going to cry. Listening to Jesus isn’t always as easy as it sounds.
Then there are the other times He talks to us. You know, when you’re feeling sorry for yourself because your feet hurt and you meet someone who has no feet. It makes you feel pretty silly. Or maybe you’re meal didn’t turn out exactly the way you hoped it would, and you walk outside and there’s some pour soul begging for money to buy food. I think these things happen to us more times than we even realize because we may not be paying attention.
Someone taught me a very simple, but very effective prayer that I try to say every morning. “Lord, what do you want me to learn today?” Why is it a good prayer? I’ll tell you. Think about the last time you were shopping for a new car. After you’ve narrowed your choice down to a pickup truck, but you haven’t decided on the brand, do you notice that about every third car on the road is a pickup? They’re everywhere. This is the same principle. The prayer gives you a focus and you start to notice answers coming at you from every which way. If you ask the right questions, answers will come at you from the places you’d least expect them.
Every once in a while, someone will come up to me after mass and say, you were speaking right to me today when you said….whatever. And, I’m thinking to myself “what?” Did I say that? And I look at my notes and, sure enough, I did say it. It wasn’t the main point. It may have been just a phrase or a sentence, but for that person, at that time, it was exactly what they need to hear. That’s why you can’t fall asleep when Father and I are up here talking. Jesus may be talking to you and ou might miss it I’m just sayin’………….
Finally, which is what I usually say before I make three or four more points, but this time I really mean it. Finally, something happened to me this week that was pretty serious. In the last few days, between the mass readings, the daily Liturgy of the Hours, the little Lent book that Father sent us, even in the stations of the cross, answers have been coming at me like questions at a presidential news conference. “Deacon Mike! Deacon Mike! Have you thought about this? How about this idea? Think about how I suffered!” It seems like either Jesus really wants to help me through this so badly that He can’t stop talking to me, or I’m just so much in need of help that I’m really paying attention. I even had a message in a dream the other night.
God would never have told us to listen to His Son if His Son wasn’t going to have something to say. So, as we make our way through this season of Lent, we can all recognize that there’s more to this than just eating fish on Fridays and giving up whatever we’ve decided to give up. A very good practice would be to take God the Father’s simple two sentence instruction from today’s Gospel to heart. “This is my chosen Son. Listen to Him.”