Sister Margaret Carey delivered this reflection for the Sisters, Associates, and gathered faith community at Dominican Convent for the Feast of the Transfiguration.
The Entrance Antiphon for today is:
“In a resplendent cloud, the Holy Spirit appeared. The Father’s voice was heard: ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him!’”
Pope Francis in a March 1, 2015, Angelus address said:
"The Transfiguration reveals the glory of Christ and demands a response of listening to and following Jesus. . . . The Transfiguration takes place as Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem to fulfill the prophecies through his death on the cross. Jesus takes Peter, James, and John away to a high mountain in order to reveal his glory in advance to them, to strengthen them in faith for what is to come – the way of the Cross.”
In the geography of the Bible, mountains are common places to encounter the sacred. They are often places of prayer, places where we can remove our sandaled souls from the busyness of daily life, and places to encounter God.
Abraham took Isaac to Mount Moriah to offer sacrifice. Mount Moriah is now known as the Temple Mount, Golgotha, or Mount Calvary where Jesus was crucified. (Genesis 22)
On Mount Sinai, Moses was engulfed in a dense radiant cloud as he listened to God and received the Torah. (Exodus 19)
Elijah encountered God in the sound of sheer silence on Mount Horeb. (1 Kings 19:11)
Jesus also spent time in the mountains communing with his Father in prayer. The sermon in Matthew’s Gospel, (Chapters 5-7), is thought to have been delivered on Mount Eremos, also known as the Mount of the Beatitudes.
Peter, James, and John were privileged to see Jesus in glory on Mount Tabor and hear God the Father announce, “This is my Chosen Son. Listen to him.” The exact words vary slightly in the translation of the synoptic Gospels, but the one constant is: “Listen to Him.”
During the Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah appear next to Jesus. These iconic Jewish figures signal Christ’s glory by their presence and affirm that Jesus acts and speaks in accordance with the Law and the Prophets.
After the Transfiguration, the disciples remained silent to contemplate and reflect on what had happened. The Jerome Biblical Commentary suggests that the disciples had a mystical experience, and their understanding of this event was not fully realized until after the resurrection.
As we heard in the second letter of Peter, Peter recalls Christ receiving honor and glory from God the Father when that unique declaration came from majestic glory. Peter states that with James and John, he heard the voice from heaven while they were with Jesus on the mountain.
The command at the Transfiguration was for the disciples but is also for us today. To listen to Jesus and follow Jesus means laying down our lives as a gift of love for one another in obedience to the will of the Father. The glory of God revealed in Jesus is a transforming fire that purifies and renews. In the fire of God’s love, all sin, sorrow, suffering, and death will be consumed.
So, where do we go to Listen to God? As I look around this chapel, I see few of us who would be able to climb a mountain in order to commune with God. But each of us can find a place apart – a sacred space where God speaks in our innermost being and we LISTEN and experience the presence of the living God.
Let us journey with Jesus in prayerful openness and attentively listen to the Word that God has for each of us. Let us expect to hear that Word and to experience God’s presence filling us with strength, love, peace, joy, and well-being.
Again, Pope Francis in his 2015 Angelus address said, “Jesus’ way always leads to happiness. There will always be a cross and trials in the midst, but in the end, it always leads to happiness.” This song reminds me of Julie Hoy’s short hymn, “Still Small Voice,” which that says when we listen to and follow Jesus, we will be led to happiness, and we will be transformed.
There’s a still small voice that I hear when I’m silent and it speaks to the depths of my soul. And I know that if I only take time to listen, then I won’t be the same anymore. Your Spirit will guide me, for you live inside me, and I won’t be the same anymore.
– Sister Margaret Carey, OP
Sister Margaret resides in Dominican Convent where she is engaged in prayer ministry and community service.