Opening: "Listen to this!" we say to our friends as we tell them the latest news; "Listen to me." we say to our children to get their attention. Listening, really listening is an essential part of human communications. Think about a time when you really listened with care to what someone was saying to you. What made it possible for you to listen with care to the other person? What was going on around you and within you while you were really listening.
Gospel: Read the Gospel for the Second Sunday of Lent through slowly a couple of time, thinking about these questions.
- What image from the Gospel story stands out for you?
- What verse or verses are important to you? Which ones invite you to further reflection?
Jesus took Peter, John, and James
and went up to the mountain to pray.
While he was praying his face changed in appearance
and his clothing became dazzling white.
And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah
who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus
that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.
Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep,
but becoming fully awake,
they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.
As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus,
"Master, it is good that we are here;
let us make three tent,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."
But he did not know what he was saying.
While he was still speaking,
a cloud came and cast a shadow over them,
and they became frightened when they entered the cloud.
Then from the cloud came a voice that said,
"This is my chosen Son; listen to him."
After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone.
They fell silent and did not at that time
tell anyone swhat they had seen.
Reflection: In the second half of the chapter from Luke's Gospel where we find this reading, a number of significant things happen: First, when asked by Jesus, "Who do you say that I am?" Peter acknowledged him as the Messiah of God. Then, Jesus predicts his own suffering and death. And finally Jesus talks about the cost of discipleship: that each must take up the cross daily and follow him. It is in this context that Peter, James and John are taken to a mountaintop and witness the transfiguration. Luke's account is rich with Old Testament references and foreshadowing of the passion: the disciples fall asleep here as they do at Gethsemane on the eve of the crucifixion. While they may have found this event confusing or frightening, they are left with a clear mandate: "This is my chosen Son; listen to him."
This can be the call we attend to during this second week of Lent—recognize Jesus for who he is and listen to him.
Listening to God requires many of the same characteristics that are in play when we listen to a spouse, a good friend, or a child. It begins by being intentional about really listening; setting aside a time for prayer, however brief, gives us a chance to acknowledge to ourselves and to God that we are willing and ready to listen. Clearing away external distractions is an important element, but perhaps even more important is clearing away internal distractions. If we come to a conversation with our own firm agenda or with the intention of convincing the other person that we are right, it is difficult to genuinely listen. The same is true of prayer: quieting ourselves and allowing God to speak a new word to us opens us up to seeing God present in our lives in fresh ways.
The experience of witnessing the Transfiguration must have opened up the way in which Peter, James and John saw Jesus and the way in which they listened to him. Prayer, rooted in genuine listening, can have a similar effect on us.
Lived faith: So, how might reflection on the Gospel reading nvite you to attend with more care to listening to God in prayer? What practices can you put in place this week to enhance your time of prayer and your awareness of God's presence in your life?
Take time during this second week of Lent to listen with care to God speaking through scripture, through the Mass, through other people.