There is nothing in our minds that was not first in our senses.
This is an old philosophical statement and deserves some thoughtfulness leading to prayer. God has to come to us in ways we can receive and process. Given our human state, God is limited to coming into our minds and hearts the same way as everybody else does. We have to see, hear, taste, and feel so that our minds have something with which to work. This process allows us to have as much of a free response as is possible for us to have.
As we prepare for the mysterious Eucharistic way by which God chooses to enter our lives, we might pray these days with the sights, sounds, tastes and touches which can move our hearts to believe in an active and even laboring God. Baby’s faces, couple-colored skies, the infinitely-rolling sea, the healing touch of a friend, the smell of newly-baked bread, the distant moaning of a train, are all prayer-starters. God comes to us through the little and large, the soft and fractured. The reception is up to us and the Sender is infinitely patient and for ever trying to attract us.
We can pray to sense more of God’s presence in all the ways we are “come to”, and this kind of sensing will lead us to the acceptance of the Eucharist with a deeper sense of our being loved.
The Promise-Maker is at it again, and so is the first promise-keeper. Abram hears the calling-God and the dramatic request to leave both his familiar homeland and the security of his lineage. Both of these are precious treasures in the time of Abram. He is given a promise of a new land and a new kind of family lineage. He did go from his familiar homeland!
There is the added promise that his family would be the very one by which other families and nations would be blessed. As “Abba” he would be father of the nation, Israel, and the Father of Faith by his trusting that what he heard was real, was true. The marvel is that he believed in a communication that was not the usual manner of relating. He becomes a “second Adam” who hears and obeys and presents Israel a model for their listening to God and living according to what is heard.
The Gospel presents us also with a mysterious communication followed by a faithful response. The Transfiguration is an intimate picture of Jesus again listening to Who He is and sharing that identity with His friends. They enjoy being with Jesus and each other, but this event calls them to a deeper acceptance of Jesus and what their relationship with Him is going to cost.
They see Moses and Elijah, representing The Law and the Prophets. They had their own callings and they seem to be reaffirming Jesus’ call to live more deeply the revelations of the Law and the Prophets in His own life’s journey. Peter makes the natural response to lock up the relationship and live on this holy mountain by and for themselves. As we see later in the narrative, Jesus “touched” them, raised their eyes and bodies and headed them off into a new holy land.
The whole scene is a projection of a “figuration” of Jesus on another piece of holy ground, the Garden of Obedience where Jesus struggles to continue listening while these same three again are fallen to the ground, sleeping. In this Transfiguration, something of fullness or “glorification” is revealed and an inviting voice from heaven names again this Beloved, this Christ as true Son. Last week we heard the Tempter inviting Jesus to listen to false identifications. This week we see Him listening to a voice He knows inside Himself to be real, affirming, and missioning.
There are serious implications to intimacy. Abram, Moses, Elijah, Jesus and these three early disciples all are moved, interiorly and literally. Being truly met is to be moved to respond and change our outlook and our goings out. Vision then moves to mission, to a doing of something, but how does one know really that the vision, the voice, the call, the intuition, are all real. Maybe we’re just talking to ourselves and saying what we want to hear in the first place.
I love being a Companion of Jesus, a Jesuit and a priest. I would say I heard a call, and trusted it was from God. Like Abram, Moses, Elijah, Jesus and all His followers including you, the reader, how did they know? Is it success that ratifies a calling? I am adequately successful, (they haven’t kicked me out, yet, from Creighton). I am quite a happy fellow; does that qualify me as certain of being called? Maybe the Transfiguration was nothing more than a transhallucination and the frightened three were under the spell or subtle influence of a quite powerful personality. Perhaps Abram was just out standing in the Mediterranean sun too long.
The presence of other real possibilities makes a wonderful framework for that which is central to these Readings and our prayer. Abram left; the disciples left the mountain of the vision. In Scripture and in our lives, vision leads to mission. If there is a calling-conference from God it will never be to just sit there and enjoy the good feelings or the sense of being special. Intimacy is prelude to the distributing of life in some fashion or other. We will know that there is a calling and not a dreaming by the fruitfulness of the life after the appearance, or urging, or “still quiet voice.” The fruitfulness might not be in the ways of the world. This form of fruitfulness is a deepening of trust in the Caller and living that trust - whatever happens.
“Lord, let Your mercy be on us as we place our trust in you.” Ps. 33
Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook