Reflections 6th August 2017

A Reflection for the Feast of the Transfiguration

Mt: 17:1-9 ( )  

Many years ago I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro with some friends. The semi-rainforest on the lower slopes was the best part for me. I recall the Longfellow line “bearded with moss and in garments green … stand like druids of eld”. Much further up the mountain, about 17,000ft., someone asked me to stop and listen. I stopped and after some seconds I said “what?”. The response came, “Listen, there is no more noise, no birds at this height, only peace”. And I answered, “Lord, it is good for us to be here”. 

On the mountain-top Jesus’ face shone like the sun so he is the new Moses. On the mountain-top they are all at peace, there is no bickering opposition, and Peter says “Lord it is good for us to be here”. On the mountain-top Jesus learns his mission. He is to save the world: not by feats of power or by killing Roman soldiers (as was the Roman way) but by unselfish loving and therefore by suffering and dying (as was the divine way).

The mountain-top is the great moment when Jesus becomes fully aware of the true nature of his mission. This is a starting moment. St. Luke says that when Jesus came down from the mountain he set his face determinedly for Jerusalem, i.e. Calvary. On the mountain-top another question is answered. Immediately before this Jesus asks his disciples “Who do people say I am?” Now the Father answers “this is my beloved Son...listen to him”.

We too wonder. At times we are called to a mountain-top experience. It is a chance to have quiet and to listen to Jesus. And what might Jesus be saying? He is calling us to follow. Immediately before our Transfiguration story Jesus is talking about the Kingdom; about his going up to Jerusalem to be handed over; about the cost of following him, “let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me”

A big part of love is sincere listening.

Tom McDonald C.S.Sp. – Fr. Tom spent most of his missionary life in Kenya. He has lectured in Anthropology.  He is currently Chaplain at St. Michael’s Hospital, Dún Laoghaire.