In today’s Gospel, we discover that when God reveals his glory through Jesus, all he wants is for us to listen to him. But what does it mean to listen? Is it how much attention we give? Is it how much time we take, or how much we remember? In this instance, it is centred on one thing: silence.
We need silence like we need to hear.
Why? Because silence helps us practise hearing, especially in prayer. When we practise silence, we are emptying ourselves of chaotic thoughts, emotions, worries and external concerns – so that God can fill us instead – with his beautiful thoughts, his truthful words, his concerns for the good of all. We are all unique and we experience God in ways that are special to each of us, but it is important to remember that there is only one true God and only one kind of love. It is Love Himself, Jesus, who we need to mould our lives upon. Only he can show us, under all the gravel, the deepest, most honest desires of our hearts.
These desires, our truest desires, were put there by God: they are good. When we discover our desires for love we become fully alive. When St. Irenaeus said “The glory of God is man fully alive, and the life of man is the vision of God” I believe he was being very literal: there, at the transfiguration, Peter, James and John saw Jesus in his glory, as a man fully alive. There is so much richness to our existence that we don’t notice, understand, see or hear… We need to listen to the voice of God, we need him to tell us who we are and we need him to show us who he is, through the sacraments: through Reconciliation, through the Eucharist. We need him more than anything.
There is a poem I have known for some time now, often read at weddings, which I believe captures this element of prayer beautifully:
Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than
falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.
Attributed to Fr Pedro Arrupe, SJ (1907-1991)
Finding God in All Things: A Marquette Prayer Book
Therefore, when we are in love with God, we listen to him so much that we become like him. Who we are in love with transforms us. If we pay attention to Jesus, we learn how we, too, can be transfigured into his image: the image of love himself. He who came down from heaven, as the incarnate God, to save us from our sins and to bring us repentance.
How much joy there is to be had in silence! How much richer our lives would be!