Aug. 6, 2017

“THIS IS MY BELOVED SON, LISTEN TO HIM”

Readings: 1st- Dan. 7: 9-10, 13-14; 2nd- 2 Pet. 1: 16-19; Gospel- Matt. 17: 1-9 

I am thrilled by the witness of Peter in the second reading of today. The apostle speaks of the reality of God’s power in Christ. The power, glory and majesty of Christ comes directly from the Father. Peter witnesses to the transfiguration and narrates to us, “We ourselves heard this voice come down from heaven while we were with him on the holy mountain”. He reminds Christians that we carry a “prophetic message” which makes us “lamps shining in dark places”. Like in the first reading from Daniel, Peter reminds us that power, dominion, glory and kingship belong to Christ. 

We witness the transfiguration incident in the gospel. Christ unites the old and the new in a transformative way. He takes Peter, James and John to the top of the mountain to pray. Scripture explains, "as he prayed, the aspect of his face was changed and his clothing became brilliant as lightening". Christ prays intensely. He is transfigured. Unlike the Gethsemane experience, Peter and the two apostles are not asleep. They witness the transfiguration, and Peter exclaims, “Master, let us build three tents here…”

Moses and Elijah appear as pointers to the mission of Christ. Moses represents the Old Testament Law. He is to redeem the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Moses embodies moral and legal code contained in the Mosaic Law. As bearer of the Decalogue, Moses depicts the covenantal relationship between God and Israel. Elijah is the prophet who speaks God’s word in the Old Testament. He is the greatest prophet in the Old Testament. Elijah uses the words, "Thus says the Lord", to declare God’s will to the people. Moses and Elijah are strong witnesses to Christ and to the message of salvation. 

Christ is the new Lawgiver. He says of himself, "I came not to abolish the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill them" (Matt.5:16-17). In Christ, the law is made honorable. In the “Word made Flesh”, the prophecy of God's love for humanity is fulfilled, namely that all may come to truth and knowledge of salvation. 

Transfiguration teaches us several lessons. It is a moment of revelation and affirmation. It focuses our attention on things of heaven. The Psalm says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims his handiwork” (Ps. 19:1). Scripture says again, “The Lord looks down from heaven, and sees the whole human race” (Ps. 33: 13). The voice of God speaks to us from heaven, "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him". 

The Voice of the Father invites us to listen to Christ. How can we hear God’s voice? The surest way is through prayer. When we pray, we let God speak to us. When we pray, the heavens open. Prayer attracts the Voice of the Father. Saint Faustina reminds us, "A soul arms itself by prayer for all kinds of combat. In whatever state the soul may be, it ought to pray. A soul which is pure and beautiful must pray; or else it will lose its beauty. A soul which is striving after this purity must pray, or else it will never attain it. A soul which is newly converted must pray, or else it will fall again. A sinful soul, plunged in sins must pray so that it might rise again. There is no soul which is not bound to pray, for every single grace comes to the soul through prayer". A soul that prays listens to Christ. 

We must learn to listen only to the right Voice. God demands of us today, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him” (Matt. 17: 5). The voice of Jesus speaks powerfully to us always. Unfortunately, though, other negative voices speak to us too. Two keys to hear God’s voice are through Prayer and Patience. I call them the “two Ps”. The more you pray, the more you hear God’s voice. The more patient you are, the more you are able to discern God’s voice. 

The good voice speaks good things. Some of us might have heard about the lady who survived the 1994 Rwandan genocide. This lady witnessed the killing of her parents, two brothers, friends, and relatives. She simply witnessed complete massacre in Rwanda. Now, she’s sharing her story. She tells us how God speaks to individuals even in the ugliest experiences. Her name is Immaculee Ilibagiza. This girl spent three months in a three-by-four size bathroom, with seven other girls.  A pastor hid her and the other girls in the bathroom to escape the murderers. When this lady eventually came out everyone she knew had been slaughtered. Different voices started speaking to her. 

Even while she prayed, negative voices tried to convince her to take revenge, that God wasn’t existing. She persisted in prayer. She was patient with God. Immaculee is bearing witness today and challenging Christians to listen to God’s voice. She had opportunity to meet with the man who murdered her brother. She forgave this murderer. If someone like Imaculee Ilibagiza, could forgive those who killed her parents and had her family members wiped out, I believe we can all hear good voices. 

God says to us to listen to his beloved Son. Let us listen to Christ. His voice speaks of peace, forgiveness, love, patience. It speaks of selfless service to others. It keeps speaking to you even when you don’t hear. It invites you to deeper faith in God. Any voice that inculcates fear, hatred, anger, depression, revenge, addiction, betrayal, is a negative voice. Any voice that tells you to take your life is a negative voice. Any voice that tells you to support abortion is a negative voice. Ask God in prayer to let his good voice speak to you. Ask him for patience to discern between the good and the bad voice. The more you encounter God in prayer, the more transformed you become, the louder his voice speaks to you.