As children we would often stay with our aunt and uncle in Malvern and love to climb the Malvern hills. The highest point is the Worcestershire Beacon which is 425 meters above sea level. From there you have wonderful views over Herefordshire and Worcestershire. But this was just a hill. Being up there I always had a great feeling of being away from it all and seeing things from a different perspective. In today’s gospel we read that Jesus, with his disciples, went up a mountain to pray. When we go to the Holy Land in November the guide will take us to Mount Tabor. The guide book says “This is a perfect breast-shaped mountain that inspires awe and wonder as it rises majestic and beautiful from the plain of Yizreel to a height of 600 meters.” Traditionally this is the place where Jesus was transfigured. In scripture, mountains are places were God is encountered. Elijah encountered God on Mount Horeb and Moses encountered God on Mount Sinai. God revealed himself to them. Peter James and John saw Jesus transfigured. They had an encounter with Jesus in his glory. “The aspect of his face changed and his clothing became brilliant like lightning ….They saw his glory”. When the cloud covered them with shadow a voice came from the cloud saying ”This is my Son, the Chosen one, listen to him.” This Lent there are no mountains or high places in Canterbury to climb to encounter God. Let us try to come away and leave behind the noise and busyness of our everyday existence so that we have some time to pray. Those words that Peter James and John heard “Listen to him”, can be for us an invitation to pray. Let us try to create pockets of silence during these weeks of Lent to listen to Jesus. Every devout Jew is required to listen in order to be penetrated by God’s will: “ Hear O Israel (Deut 6:4)” This is the first words of the Sherma, the prayer each Jew recited morning, afternoon and evening. Listening is the most fundamental attitude required of Israel. It is a command also given to each of us. To listen is not just an invitation to lend an attentive ear but it also means we are asked to open our heart to God. We are invited to open our heart to Jesus.
Here are some words of St Augustine to encourage us. “Return to your heart! Come back! To where? To the Lord! It is quick! Return immediately to your heart! Exiled from your own self you wander outside. You fail to know yourself, you who want to know the source of your existence. Come back! Return to the heart!…See there what you can learn about God, for the image of God is there. In your interior person dwells Christ. In your interior person you are renewed after God’s image.”
Give me a listening heart this Lent