For me, first and foremost, the Gospel account of the Transfiguration is a lesson about prayer. It teaches us what prayer is about – and it is about our intimate association with God. We all desire those moments, special moments, of a deeper encounter with God; those moments when we are given a ‘glimpse’ so-to-speak of paradise. We see it in today’s Gospel; Peter, James and John have been given a glimpse of heavenly discourse. But there is so much more in this Gospel about prayer.
It is work. The three disciples climbed up a mountain, and anyone who has done this knows it is definitely much harder to do than walk through a flat field. Aside from the sheer exertion of climbing up; you have to pick your path, there might be the need to turn back, retrace your steps and find another way up. So to with our prayer; we are constantly having to find the right place and time in which to pray. We have all started a type of prayer and then realized that it wasn’t working for us at that moment – so we try another.
Sometimes, like Peter, we just don’t know what to say. We are without words, we can’t seem to figure the correct way of expressing our feelings or emotions and this troubles us. We heard in the Gospel “He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.”
Which brings us to – prayer can be very disconcerting, maybe even terrifying. There are times when we are not sure if we want to hear, really hear, in our hearts what God is going to tell us.
Those moments of prayer are all too brief. Like the disciples at the transfiguration, we have to come down from the mountain experience to continue on with our lives. The brightness of prayer seems to dull the reality of our life. The Holy Father writes that “No one lives ‘on Tabor’ while on earth…” and he continues saying. “Human existence is a journey of faith, and, as such, goes forward more in darkness.”; the brightness of our prayer life, even when it good, is only a brief respite in our journey, which can be filled with drudgery and loneliness.
But it is enough!
Because, as with the disciples who kept thinking about what they saw, we will be affected by our encounters in prayer; and keeping them in the front of our minds, reflecting on what we gained through prayer leads us to growth with the Lord and peace of mind.
And above all, know that as we climb the mountains of our prayer encounters, as with the disciples, we are being led by Christ himself – we are not alone. ‘Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.’ We heard in the Gospel this weekend it was Jesus first who took the initiative, the lead and He does the same for us too, if we allow it.
And once there? Once on that moutnain?
Well that is the easy part. ‘Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.“’