Listen to God’s Voice: a Reflection for the Second Sunday of Lent, 2023

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Listen to God’s Voice: a Reflection for the Second Sunday of Lent, 2023

Genesis 12:1-4a

2 Timothy 1:8b-10

Matthew 17:1-9

In the first reading from Genesis, we read that Abraham had learned to listen to and for God’s voice. Did God’s voice come through a dream, talking to God directly or through the voice of others, through quiet reflection or a strong intuition. We don’t know how he heard God’s voice but he was told to go to a new land so he and his family set out for an unknown adventure. I do wonder how his family felt about all of this.

In the second reading from Timothy, we read that we are God’s people and not to be afraid or ashamed of witnessing for Jesus Christ. We have been given the grace and strength to do so. We, to, like Abraham are called daily to follow God’s voice into the unknown adventure of the day.

When I read the Transfiguration story in the Gospel, I begin to imagine the whole day. It probably begins like a seemingly ordinary day. The Apostles are tending to their duties when suddenly Jesus invites His seemingly favorite three apostles, Peter, James and John, to accompany him. They were always eager to be with him, for being in his presence must have filled them with wonder, expectation, hope and even joy. So they follow and go with him up this rugged, steep mountain wondering where and why they were there. The notion of mountain in Scripture refers to being closer to God. They had to be tired and thirsty when reaching the top and so they rested-falling asleep. Suddenly they are awaken by this bright light and they sense fear, surprise, awe, wonder and see Moses and Elijah. Don’t you wonder how they recognized then? Now Moses and Elijah represent the law and the prophets of which Jesus is the fulfillment. They then hear the powerful words, “This is my beloved Son, Listen to him”. We hear these similar words at the Baptism of Jesus, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am pleased”. With all this action, the apostles had to be confused and tried to make sense out of all this happening which would require much reflection and listening as their life continues.

So as the apostles here these words, so do we hear them not only from the Rule of Benedict but every day during our prayer time. Listening is one of the hardest things to do. Our minds can be so wild and untamed and so to be truly quiet and really listen not only to others but to God’s voice is not easy. It is a discipline. We work at it constantly for our hearts can be so closed and/or hardened that we just cannot hear or refuse to hear.

So, these forty days of Lent are our journey to the Transfiguration. Daily we climb the rugged hill or mountain trying to stay close to Jesus so as not to stumble, lose our balance, or lose our way even though we may be tired and weary. By listening and reflecting daily in our prayer and keeping these thoughts daily in our hearts, we will and do have the grace to walk up the mountain, the steps of Lent to the glory of Easter. For our Savior has gone before us and is with us still-before us, behind us and all through us.

As we hear in a beautiful sonnet written by Malcolm Guite, reflecting on the Transfiguration:

For that one moment, in and out of time,
On that one mountain where all moments meet,
The daily veil that covers the sublime
In darkling glass fell dazzled at his feet.
There were no angels full of eyes and wings,
Just living glory full of truth and grace.
The love that dances at the heart of things
Shone out upon us from a human face.
And to that light the light in us leaped up,
We felt it quicken somewhere deep within,
A sudden blaze of long-extinguished hope
Trembled and tingled through the tender skin.
Nor can this blackened sky, this darkened scar,
Eclipse that glimpse of how things really are.

So finally, let us listen to and heed God’s voice in our surroundings and trust in the presence of Jesus Christ with us.

Transfiguration of Jesus by Macedonian artist Armando Alemdar
Transfiguration of Jesus by Macedonian artist Armando Alemdar

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“Listen carefully, my child, to your master's precepts, and incline the ear of your heart. Receive willingly and carry out effectively your loving father's advice, that by the labor of obedience you may return to Him from whom you had departed by the sloth of disobedience.”
–St. Benedict of Nursia, The Rule of Saint Benedict