2nd Sunday of Lent 2023

Genesis 12:1-4     2 Timothy  1:8-10      Matthew 17:1-9

TransfigurationIt is said that ‘You cannot see the face of God and live’ (Exod 33:20) and that ‘Nobody has ever seen God.  Only Jesus, the Son of God has seen God’ (John 1:18).  The experience of Peter, James and John was one of ‘seeing’ Jesus transfigured – akin to knowing what God is really like.  

Our sense of Sight is not mentioned in the Gospels except when Jesus heals those who are blind or when he tells St Thomas “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (John 20:29). Today’s Gospel tries to focus our attention on our sense of Hearing.  The three disciples are instructed to “listen to Him”, listen to the Jesus, the Word of God.

Our sense of hearing is especially sanctified during the Baptism Liturgy when the celebrant touches the ears of the newly baptised and prays; “The Lord made the deaf hear and the dumb speak.  May He soon touch your ears to receive His Word” (Rite of Baptism

Listening and Hearing fit very well into our Lenten Spirituality of Fasting, Almsgiving and Prayer.

During this Holy Season of Lent we are prompted to ‘listen’ to our own selves, to listen to others around us and to listen to God. Listening to ourselves can be very difficult because of all that is going on around us, because of our responsibilities and duties in life and because of the distractions and compulsions that we allow in our lives.

Fasting does not just refer to consumption of food and drink.  The control and moderation of all that gives us comfort in life is one of the basic calls of Lent.  By shedding some the unnecessary baggage of living and clearing space for ourselves we will be able to listen to our real selves. 

Almsgiving means more than the giving of material help or charitable donations.  Giving time to speak to, to sit and chat, to listen to and hear the concerns and interests of others can be a very effective form of Almsgiving.

Prayer is not just speaking to God.  More important, Prayer is listening to God.  Samuel prays, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening” (1 Sam 3:9).   With us it is more ‘Listen Lord, your servant is speaking’!   At the beginning of Lent the Gospel directed to go our private space to speak to God.  We need to seek silence if we are to hear God speaking.  The Dominican Friar of the Middle Ages, John Tauler said “If God would speak, you must be silent”.

The Gospel today reminds us “This is my Son, my Word: listen to Him”.   Our prayer  will not take on the same physical reality that Peter, James and John experienced but we do have the physical reality of the Book of the Sacred Scriptures and we can use it as a ‘prop’ to remind us of just how real the Word of God is for us.  We can, in a sense iterate the experience of the three apostles when they climbed the mountain with Jesus.  The Christian Orthodox Monk Maximos, Confessor and Father of the Church (7th C)) taught:  “When we take the Bible into solitude and listen attentively to the word of God, we are doing something similar to what Peter, James and John did”. So, let us take our Bible, find a space and silence, hold it and pray; “Speak Lord, your servant is listening”.