February 21, 2009
Saturday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Mark 9: 2-13
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, "This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!" Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean. Then they asked him, "Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?" He said to them, "Elijah is indeed coming first to restore all things. How then is it written about the Son of Man, that he is to go through many sufferings and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written about him."
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I climb the mountain (meaning I am going to the place of encounter) to learn what real prayer is. Like the disciples who are humbled by how you pray, but are desirous to learn, I turn to you with trust. I want to set all things aside and seek only to please you during this time of prayer.
Petition: Lord, teach me to pray.
1. Learning How to Be with Christ
Imagine the time the three were to have alone with Christ, a time of sweeping consolation and light. First, it was a time to climb, to ascend with prayer, to make the arduous trip. Being changed by Christ does not come by just “hanging around” him, passively watching him work in the lives of others. We must fight to open doors for him to enter. Is our prayer a climb to reach God, or does it forever circle the base of the mountain, fearful of the effort, stuck in mediocre thoughts? Are we making deep acts of faith, hope and love to reach for the heights of union with him? Are we moving away from self-centeredness and earthly attachments towards a pure heart ready to receive the glory of God?
2. Getting that “Vision Thing”
What does a heart given to God receive from God? It receives a mysterious revelation of God’s glory, of the temporal caught up in the eternal, of God’s awesome view of things. At the Transfiguration, Peter, James and John are given the complete picture. Christ reveals for a moment the glory of the things to come in the key of the things that have gone before. The three disciples, too, are given the vision of their mission as it is taken up into his. What a consolation this is: to see so clearly what God sees, to take away all doubt before so much human weakness! If we could experience what God holds in his heart, we would know the glory and honor for which we struggle and fight. We would read the next chapter of salvation history that we, in our faithful service, are writing together with Christ. Without prayer, without the effort to delve into God’s thoughts, we will never see this.
3. Christian Prayer Is about Fulfillment
Tabor teaches the disciple how to cultivate a living experience of Christ in prayer and to know what the fruits of proper prayer are. The first effect of fruitful prayer is the revelation of God’s glory, his true beauty. This speaks of the power from above that acts as a grace within. “Let us build three booths….” Those booths speak of the true longing for God which must be protected by habits of virtue and reflective prayer. The second effect is a revelation of God’s plan for us. God’s plan for humanity is so beautiful; our own vocation in life is also eminently beautiful. God’s plan may have its unexpected twists as we live it, but in as much as it is his plan and not our own, it is always beautiful. Third, fruitful prayer delivers a revelation of our destiny. Christ’s mission is only completely fulfilled in heaven. Our true home is in heaven, and under heaven’s power our heart’s desire is changed. This change transforms the present into a different type of faith experience. To have the wherewithal to win in this life, our ultimate victory must be set for heaven alone.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, without your influence acting in the depths of my interior life, my life will be forever empty. I make these words of the Veni Sancte Spiritus my own:
Light most blessed, shine with grace
in our heart’s most secret place,
fill your faithful through and through!
Left without your presence here,
life itself would disappear,
nothing thrives apart from you!
Resolution: I will fight in a special way any resistance to prayer, and I will strive to put into practice the resolutions that come from prayer.
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