Today the Gospel presents the event of the Transfiguration. It is the 2nd stage on the Lenten journey. The first was the temptation in the desert, last Sunday; the second is the Transfiguration. Jesus “takes Peter, James and John apart with him up to the mountain” (Matthew 17:1). In the Bible the mountain represents a place of closeness to God and of intimate encounter with him; a place of prayer where you are in the presence of the Lord. Up on the mountain Jesus shows himself to the 3 disciples transfigured; he is luminous, beautiful; and then Moses and Elijah appear and converse with him. His countenance is so glowing and his clothing so brilliant that Peter is in awe; so much so that he wishes to remain there. He wants almost to freeze the moment. Then suddenly the voice of the Father speaks from above, proclaiming Jesus as his beloved Son, stating: “Listen to him” (17:5). These words are important! Our Father says to these apostles and to us too: “Listen to Jesus, because he is my precious Son.” Let us keep these words in our minds and heart this week: “Listen to Jesus!” And it is not the Pope who says this, it is God the Father who says this: to me, to you, to everyone, everyone! It is a kind of help for going forward on the road of Lent. “Listen to Jesus!” Do not forget.
This invitation of the Father is very important. We, disciples of Jesus, are called to be people who listen to his voice and take his words seriously. To hear Jesus, it is essential to be near him, to follow him, as the crowds in the Gospel did who walked the roads of Palestine. Jesus did not have a fixed post of instruction or pulpit, but was a roving teacher, who gave his teachings along the roadway, the teachings given to him by His Father, taking journeys that were not always foreseeable and in some cases not really simple. Follow Jesus to hear him. But let us likewise hear Jesus in his written Word, in the Gospel.
I ask you a question; do you read a passage of the Gospel every day? Yes, no … yes, no … Half and half … Some yes, some no. However is it is essential! Do you check out the Gospel? It is a good thing; it is very good to have a little Bible, and carry it with us, in our pocket, in our bag, to check out a little passage from it at any time during the day. Any time throughout the day I take the Gospel from my pocket and read something, a short passage. There is Jesus who talks with us, in the Gospel! Think of this. It is not difficult, nor is it required that it be all 4 Gospels. One of the Gospels, very small, with us. We must always carry the Gospel with us, since it is Jesus’ word, to listen to it.
I wish to point out two significant aspects from this episode of the Transfiguration that I sum up in two words: ascent and descent. We have to go apart by ourselves, to rise the mountain in a space of silence, to find ourselves and better view the Lord’s voice. We do this in prayer. However we can not remain there! The encounter with God in prayer moves us once more to “descend from the mountain” and return below, in the plain, where we meet many who are burdened by toils, sickness, oppression, ignorance, material and spiritual poverty. We are called to give to these who are encountering hardships, the fruits of our experience with God, sharing the graces we have received. And this is serious. When we pay attention to Jesus’ Word, we listen to Jesus’ word and keep it in our heart, that Word grows. And do you understand how it grows? By sharing it with another person! Jesus’ Word in us grows when we announce it, when we give it to others! And this is the Christian life. It is an objective for the whole Church, for all the baptized, for all of us: listen to Jesus and share him with others. Always remember: this week, listen to Jesus! And think of this thing about the Gospel (about having one with you always, and reading it regularly). Will you do it? Will you do this? Then next Sunday you will tell me whether you have done this: having a little Gospel in your pocket or bag to read a little passage throughout the day.
And now let us turn to our Mother Mary, and place ourselves to her guidance to make this Lenten journey with faith and generosity, learning a little more to “ascend” with prayer and listen Jesus and to “descend” with fraternal charity, revealing Jesus to others.