Love Is Listening
Ever Attentive Father, help me to pay attention to the whisper of the Spirit as You speak to me through Your Word.
Read MARK 9:2-13
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Christians … often think they must always contribute something when they are in the company of others…They forget that listening can be a greater service than speaking” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer).
Peter is believed to be a key source for Mark’s Gospel. Details in the account seem to suggest that it is often his story that we are reading. No detail is left out, even if to have done so might have saved face for Peter. In this story, Jesus gives to Peter, James and John the honor of joining him on a mountain retreat. In the course of this, a remarkable vision unfolds. Jesus is transformed before their eyes until he glows with heavenly glory, and Moses and Elijah—the two most powerful heroes in Hebrew history—appear in conversation with him. History and heaven come together in an experience that is deeply Jewish and at the same time profoundly new.
Peter’s response is shot through with frailty and foolishness. First, he declares that “it is good for us to be here” (5a), making himself and his companions central to an experience to which they are in reality only peripheral. Clearly Jesus wanted them with him, but the transfiguration is not about them, it is about him. Secondly, Peter suggests making permanent what is intended as a passing experience (5b). The building of booths is typical of a traditional religious response to sacred experience: an attempt to fix the event in space and time; to create ritual around it. It emphasizes the form rather than the content. The purpose of this vision, however, is that God might speak, affirming beyond doubt the divine mission of Jesus (7). Peter was not supposed to be talking, or building, or suggesting. He was supposed to be listening. He is the “everyman” of Mark’s Gospel, the typical and representative human. How often are we to be found talking and suggesting, when the intention is that we should listen?
Busyness is a badge of honor in our society. Think of ways you can simplify your life, and give better attention to God’s presence, to listening and to the needs of others.
Loving Lord, from every detour and distraction that dazzles me, disentangle me. Every wrong turn, redeem. Patient Father, slow me down and turn me to You, I pray.
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