Paying attention: the mission

TransfigThis weekend, my Franciscan brother, Fr. Bill McConville, OFM is preaching at all the Masses as part of the Lenten Parish Mission (which I hope you are planning to attend if you are in the Tampa area).  Having a guest homilist is a secret pleasure for a priest – even if you like the whole process of preparation and presentation (which I do).  Still, it is a like a holiday that shows up at your door step.  Woohoo!!  It is a double blessing because I know Fr. Bill well.  I know his homily will be great and I will get to listen to it.  At least I hope I listen, pay attention, and even more, consider all that Fr. Bill has to say about this wonderful gospel describing the Transfiguration.

The Apostle Peter has just witnessed the Transfiguration:  “And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.  And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him.”  Wow!  The Transfiguration, that momentary uncovering of the Son of God’s own intrinsic glory, which has been temporarily veiled in his earthly life and will be reassumed at the Resurrection and Ascension.  The Transfiguration that anticipates the Resurrection of all the faithful and gives us a glimpse of the glory that awaits us in heaven – when there is no more death, no illness, when we are no longer burdened by our sins and our choices, when we love completely and without reservation.  Peter has witnessed it and … and …. well, I wish he had just taken a long, long moment to reflect on what he had just witnessed.  No, not Peter, he just plunges right in, wanting to build tents or some such things.  It makes me wonder.

Was Peter paying attention to all that Jesus taught during the Sermon on the Mount?  Was he paying attention when Jesus cast out demons, calmed the storm waters, cured Peter’s mother-in-law, made the blind see and deaf hear, when lame walked and lepers were cured?  Did he even hear his own testimony when he proclaimed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

Was he paying attention?  But then the real question is are we paying attention.  And this is not as simple a question as “do you read and think about Scripture.”  It is deeper… do you let these Gospel stories illuminate your life?  Because your life is filled with experiences.  Every human life is filled with experiences from when we get up until we go to sleep and even in our sleep when we experience our dreams.  What do we do with these experiences?  Mostly we pass over them; some we forget.

Life is filled with experiences past, present, and to come.  Many of these experiences are profoundly mysterious.  We have all the experiences you could hope for – and God is in them all – and yet we don’t reflect on much of them – and so we miss a lot.  Maybe the world is being Transfigured, but we are busy building tents or some such things.

Especially in Lent, Jesus invites each of us to the holy mountain to prayerfully consider our experiences.  It might be shrouded in the ordinary or in mystery – maybe we have a good idea who Jesus is; maybe not – we may be confused by the experiences of life and feel lost – but Jesus invites us to come with him.  To listen, to trust him, to have faith in him.  To keep reflecting about our experiences while listening to Jesus.  And maybe, just maybe, we will see something beyond our imagining:  Who Jesus really is and who we are becoming – two things inextricably woven together.

If we are paying attention.

1 thought on “Paying attention: the mission

  1. During the Liturgy of the Word in the Byzantine Rite, the deacon raises up the Gospel book in both hands, walks into the center aisle, and gives warning: “WISDOM! Let us BE ATTENTIVE!” …The first time that I attended the Divine Liturgy, I was taken aback by this unanticipated action; and for a fleeting moment, I wondered if he was hollering at me, the lone Roman Catholic in the pews! My heart was racing! I felt very much like I was cowering at the base of Mount of the Transfiguration with the Apostles. Every time I hear the Transfiguration reading, I flash back to this event.
    …So many times our dear Lord will speak to us, through people and through events, if only we would be attentive and listen for His sweet voice.
    …Thank you for the wisdom, Father. I am happy that you got a brief respite this weekend. God bless you.

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