In today’s Gospel we climb the mountain with Peter, James and John, and Jesus is transfigured before us. For a moment something of His true glory is revealed to his disciples, in order that they keep this memory with them through the dark passage that is to follow. His face shines like the sun, the cloud of glory overshadows them and the Father’s voice is heard: “This is my Beloved Son … Listen to him.” Peter wants to prolong the experience, to stay there forever. No, the light will fade, the glory will pass – but Jesus will remain, Jesus who touches them, tells them not to fear and bids them follow him down the mountain, back to ordinary life and the way of the cross. And they have heard and seen enough to know who they are following and why. Though his face is no longer shining he is still the light of the world.
So he is to each one of us. What will keep us following him is faithfulness to the light we have received, and active fidelity in listening to him. The presence of Christ in our lives can be felt very strongly at times; there can be special graces that render him present to us and almost carry us: we wish we could stay there forever! These are blessed moments, and we should return to them with thanksgiving. But they pass, and it is not a bad thing. He wants us to learn to walk. He wants our faith and our wills to grow stronger in choosing to remain with him, after the feelings have died down. When there is some effort involved in remaining faithful- it is there that love really begins, and faith really grows.
“Listen to him!” No matter what we feel we can keep doing this. Faith, St Paul says, comes from hearing. Christ is the one word God has spoken, and continues to speak in the Church to us today. But we need to open our ears and hearts to him. Faith has to be constantly renewed from within and from without. There are so many other voices in the world, contending for our attention, and many of these voices are no friends to Christ. The way the world sees things can easily become our measure, and if it does Christ’s voice will only grow fainter and fainter. We need actively to make the choices that will allow His voice to be stronger than all the other voices in our lives. The more we listen the more we will see Him as he is, and love, real love will become a force in our lives. Keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, we will be able to say yes to His will for us, and In his will is our peace. As he led us up the mountain so he will lead us back down by His side.