Last Sunday we celebrated the Lord’s Transfiguration; where He gave His closest Apostles Peter, James and John, a glimpse of His glory as the eternal Son of God. This vision was to strengthen their faith and help them deal with the ordeal of the coming Passion and give them hope when faced with persecution and martyrdom during their future mission.
The first reading recalled the prophet Daniel’s vision of one like a Son of Man, but with eternal glory, long before the Incarnation. This is a vision of the future Messiah. On the night of Holy Thursday, Jesus would admit to the Sanhedrin under oath, that He is the Messiah, the Son of God.
In the second reading St Peter recalls well after the Resurrection, the vision of Christ’s glory on the Holy Mountain. In the Jubilee Year 2000, I had the privilege of offering the Holy Mass in the Chapel of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, in the Holy Land. It is a very high mountain and the vision the Apostles experienced would give them the hope and consolation of one day sharing in the glory of Christ, if they persevered in their mission to preach the Gospel to all people.
Sunday’s Gospel explains that beside Jesus in the vision on the Holy Mountain were Moses and Elijah, who had been dead for many centuries. They were conversing with Jesus. Moses represented the Law (Torah) and Elijah, all the writings of the Prophets. Jesus is the fulfilment of the Law and the Prophets. Peter and the others are completely awe-struck and full of joy at this wonderful vision! Peter wants it to continue forever. This is why he suggested that they make three tents, for Jesus, Moses and Elijah, so they can stay on the mountain.
Suddenly the Apostles are overshadowed by a cloud, which represents the Holy Spirit. We recall how the cloud accompanied the Chosen People during their journey to the Promised Land. Then a booming voice; the voice of the Father, comes from the cloud:
This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour. Listen to him.
This is too much for the Apostles who fall prostrate on their faces in fear. But then Jesus gets them up and tells them:
Do not to be afraid.
They are not to tell the others of the vision, until after the Lord has risen from the dead.
Jesus’ Transfiguration can teach us a lot about prayer. It was when Jesus entered into prayer to the Father, that He was transfigured. The mountain was a quiet place, well away from the crowds of people who followed Him. Jesus had a habit of going off to lonely places to pray, often before dawn or throughout the whole night. In this habit of prayer, He gives us an example of the need to make quality time for prayer.
Often people try and squeeze in some prayer, but this isn’t good enough!
When we pray, we enter into the presence of God. He deserves our undivided attention! In prayer the Lord satisfies the thirst of our soul. However, often in prayer, people do all the talking, it is all vocal, and they don’t spend enough time listening.
Hence the importance of Christian Meditation. This practice can be life transforming! There are various methods of meditation.
- But firstly, it is important to choose a quiet place. Ideally a Church, or one’s bedroom or a Prayer corner (sacred space) in the House.
- Sit in an upright position and relax the whole body.
- One popular method is the Jesus Prayer. As one breathes in, just say under your breath Lord and as you breath out Jesus. It is important always to keep one’s focus on the Lord and not sit in a vacuum.
- Do this for 15 or 20 minutes twice a day.
- Another method highly recommended by the Church and practiced from earliest days is Lectio Divina. This involves taking a word or phrase from the Scriptures and in a sense: ‘chewing the word’ and then applying it to one’s life. This same word or phrase can be used in meditation for the whole week.
- I personally, have found that the ideal place to meditate is in front of the Blessed Sacrament, where one can also ‘seek the face of Christ’ in the Sacred Host or Tabernacle.