Benedict & Transfiguration

Aug 6, 2013

At his final Sunday Angelus reflection in February, Pope Benedict reflected on the gospel passage for that Sunday: the Transfiguration of Jesus.  As we celebrate the feast of the Transfiguration you might be inspired as I was, to hear Pope Benedict’s words once again:

“Luke the Evangelist highlights in particular the fact that Jesus was transfigured while he was praying. Jesus experienced a profound relationship with the Father during a sort of spiritual retreat which he made on a high mountain in the company of Peter, James and John, the three disciples ever present at the moments of the Teacher’s divine manifestation (Lk 5:10; 8:51; 9:28). 

The Lord, who had just foretold his death and Resurrection (9:22), granted the disciples a foretaste of his glory. And the heavenly Father’s voice rang out in the Transfiguration, as in the baptism: “this is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” (9:35). Moreover the presence of Moses and Elijah, who represent the Law and the Prophets of the Old Covenant, is particularly significant: the whole history of the Covenant is oriented to him, Christ, who makes a new “exodus” (9:31), not toward the promised land, as in the time of Moses, but toward Heaven. 

Peter’s words “Master, it is well that we are here” represent the impossible attempt to put this mystical experience on hold. St Augustine commented: “[Peter]… on the mountain… had Christ as the food of his soul. Why should he have to go down to return to his hard work and sorrows while up there he was filled with sentiments of holy love for God and which thus inspired in him a holy conduct? (Sermon 78,3: pl 38, 491). 

In meditating on this passage of the Gospel, we can learn a very important lesson from it: first of all, the primacy of prayer, without which the entire commitment to the apostolate and to charity is reduced to activism. In Lent we learn to give the right time to prayer, both personal and of the community, which gives rest to our spiritual life. Moreover, prayer does not mean isolating oneself from the world and from its contradictions, as Peter wanted to do on Mount Tabor; rather, prayer leads back to the journey and to action. “The Christian life”, I wrote in my Message for this Lent, “consists in continuously scaling the mountain to meet God and then coming back down, bearing the love and strength drawn from him, so as to serve our brothers and sisters with God’s own love” (n. 3)

Dear brothers and sisters, I hear this word of God as addressed to me in particular at this moment of my life. Thank you! The Lord is calling me “to scale the mountain”, to devote myself even more to prayer and meditation. But this does not mean abandoning the Church; indeed, if God asks me this it is precisely so that I may continue to serve her with the same dedication and the same love with which I have tried to do so until now, but in a way more suited to my age and strength.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Posts

John on sabbatical

John on sabbatical

a podcast conversation with Triona Doocey asking some challenging questions about my sabbatical weeks.

sabbatical update

sabbatical update

I’m like Thomas. I need to experience Christ. Happy Feast Day to all of us who seek greater maturity of faith

growing up

growing up

Thomas was not doubting as much as seeking; he was expressing the desire of one who truly yearns for adult faith.

another way

another way

Surely the real mortality in our sin is not any particular action or omission itself, but what we do after we realise our sin

matariki

matariki

I have no doubt that God used the stars to shift my focus from my own failures and successes to the God I was seeking to follow.