A quiet place

6 August 2023 Transfiguration of the Lord Year A

Listen to reflection

In many ancient religions, mountaintops were thought to be the dwelling places of the gods, where sacred encounters might happen. One example of this is the encounter of Moses with God on a mountaintop when he received the ten commandments.


Even now, among modern people, mountains are good places to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life. They can make good listening places at times when we need to reflect or make a major decision. From a mountain you can see far into the distance, so it is often a place for insight and perspective.


In our world, we need opportunities to reflect, so we can get perspective on our lives. When we choose to go on a retreat, a walk in the woods, speak to a counsellor, not turn on the radio or the television, it can be as if we are responding to the invitation Jesus gave to his disciples, to come apart for a while. We are choosing to do what the disciples heard from the cloud, “Listen to him.”


The disciples got more than they expected. They had a momentary glimpse into how special Jesus was. They heard a voice which said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”


Jesus asked Peter, James, and John not to tell anyone about the vision, “Until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” Just prior to today’s passage Jesus predicted the suffering and death that awaited him in Jerusalem. Peter tried to dissuade him. Jesus rebuked him and told him and the others that if they wished to be his disciples, they must take up their cross and follow him. 


This was not a comforting message for the disciples, but the transfiguration gave them hope for the future, and a direction to “Listen to him.” In the scriptures we pay close attention, not only to the words of Jesus, but also his actions, for they reveal God to us. They tell us about God’s forgiveness, compassion, and unfaltering love for us. As we listen closely, we hear Jesus tell us to do for others what he is about to do for us, and this empowers us to pick up our cross of service and follow him.


We may not be literally on a mountaintop today, but in a quiet place where we can listen to Jesus, despite the competing voices that seek to draw us to other ways of living than the one to which the Lord has called us. Quiet places and worshiping together give us opportunities to open our ears and our hearts and to try listening anew both to one another and to the Lord. As we listen, we also ask ourselves, “What is Jesus saying to me in the people and events of this day?” Then, we listen and do our best to discern an appropriate response.


Michael A Kelly CSsR

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