In this week’s edition of our weekly newsletter, Scott Gunn reflects on the upcoming Feast of the Transfiguration, which lends itself to many readings—one of which is the striking importance of prayer.
This coming Saturday, we will celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration. The story is told in Luke 9:28-36, among other places. Jesus goes up on the mountain with Peter, James, and John, and he is transfigured for them. His clothes become dazzling white, and Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus. Peter, as usual, gets it wrong, wanting to build shelters to stay there. A voice from heaven cries out, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” It could not be more plain for the disciples: this Jesus is no mere man, but rather the divine Son of God. And then they have to trudge down the mountain to their ordinary lives.
There is so much richness here. As a parish priest, I’ve preached on this passage many times. Luke’s telling of the story offers so many ways to enter the story. We could talk about the divine voice and its challenge. We could talk about Peter getting it wrong. We could talk about the meaning of Moses and Elijah appearing with Jesus. Or we could talk about how Jesus’ followers have to get on with it after their (literal) mountaintop experience.
This year, however, what strikes me is the beginning of the passage. “Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray.”
Jesus, even though he was incredibly busy with his urgent work, took time to pray. Even the divine Son of God needed to take time to pray. Sit with that a bit. And yet I regularly hear people say they’re too busy to pray. I see myself failing to make enough time. But Jesus did it. Read the Gospels and you get the sense that Jesus was always on the move, that his work of redemption was urgent. He still made time for time away for prayer.
Perhaps this is just what we need in our busy, cacophonous time. We’re all too busy. The emails never stop. The news never quits. We won’t change much if we think we’re going to do it on our own. Prayer. Prayer might open our lives, our minds, and our hearts to God’s will for us and for the world.
Who knows what we might see if we prayed. Where will we be dazzled? How will we see Jesus differently? What will God speak to us?
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