Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen. (Luke 9:28-36 NRSV).
All of us could use a good transfiguration moment these days. The continuing sickness and death by COVID-19 is suffocating in so many ways. We hear of the rising number of new cases. Day after day we read about people who have died from the coronavirus. Will it never end?
The celebration of the Transfiguration of Christ is so very timely. Jesus took with Him Peter, James and John, and all of us up the mountain as we read and hear the Gospel account. When the voice from Heaven says “This is my Son, my Beloved, listen to Him,” Jesus is proclaimed by the agape (love) of God as also the eros (love) of God. The vertical and the horizontal love of God is one with us in Jesus the Christ. The Cross on which Jesus died, is the symbol of the vertical and horizontal love of God, with Jesus’ arms forever outstretched. Is it any wonder why Peter said, “It is good to be here” ?
I am doing a personal at home retreat for a few days. During this retreat, I am reclaiming and renewing my Benedictine identity and spirituality. I am reading through the book entitled Benedict’s Way: An Ancient Monk’s Insights for a Balanced Life by Lonni Collins Pratt and the Late Fr. Daniel Homan, OSB. Yesterday I read something that spoke to me so clearly of what we are living through.
No matter what kind of ruins you stand in, keep moving, keep doing what you do, keep showing up every day. Haul yourself before God. (p.34).
We are all living through a time with what seems like endless ruins. The debris from how our lives used to be are everywhere. No one is untouched. It is in the middle of the ruins that Jesus takes us up the mountain, where God shows us God’s love and power that brings life out of death. All God asks of us is to haul ourselves before God and to listen to Jesus.
As contemplatives, prayer is our pathway to our relationship with God. Contemplative prayer is a way of life, through which what is mundane and normal becomes a way to grow closer to God and one another. Contemplative prayer is being in the presence of God and desiring nothing more than God. The Transfiguration is a contemplative mystery. When life is a mess, as it is for many of us, Jesus takes us into the wondrous mystical relationship with God by His single devoted love of God for all of us. Jesus, will take us into that relationship if we will just listen to Him.
“Let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ, and may he bring us all together to everlasting life.” (RB 1980: The Rule of St. Benedict in English, p.95).
Are you hauling yourself before God during these difficult times?
Peace be with all who enter here.
Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB
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