From the Catholic Liturgy for the 2nd Sunday o Lent, February 25, 2018. Gospel: Mark 9:2-10. Theme: Transfigured through Prayer.
If we were to search a database for the most common religious name given to a monastery, we would discover that Transfiguration is top on the list. The reason for this is that monasteries are meant to be places of prayerful encounter with God, usually built in the mountains or wilderness, where a Christian can be alone with Jesus, together with others seeking this same intimacy. And in our 2,000-year Church tradition of spirituality, the Transfiguration story has always been help up as a lesson in what it means to have a prayerful experience of God through the prayer form which we call meditation.
Why is this? Because meditation is all about personal intimacy with Jesus, about coming to know Him as He really is, and in the process getting to know ourselves as we really are. This is something that Peter, James and John experienced on that mountain with Jesus. They went away, alone together with Him, and as they gazed upon Him and rested in His presence, his true inner self, His divinity, began to shine through the flesh of his humanity. The disciples were caught up in this awesome revelation and Peter spoke freely to Jesus about what he was feeling in this experience. Finally, when it was over the Father’s voice directed them to listen to Jesus and they returned to regular life re-energized to follow our Lord.
This is a very good description of Christian meditation, which we are all called to practice, every-one of us. We intentionally take time to go someplace where we can be alone with Jesus in our prayer-time. We read a story out the gospels or choose a mystery of the rosary or reflect on a recent experience we have had in our lives. We imagine the story and see how it might have meaning in our lives. We reflect on it thoughtfully, ruminating over it, asking Jesus to show us what He wants us to learn from it. And then we remain quiet and listen for the voice of the Beloved Son speaking to the ears of our heart. An idea, a word, some message that pops into our minds. And then we leave our meditation time and return to our duties, re-dedicated to Jesus in our resolve to follow Him and put his words into practice.
For 2,000 years, the saints and teachers of prayer have told us that the Christian who practices meditation regularly will come to experience a mystical transfiguration in their own lives. They tell us that if we devote time every day to this form of prayer we will grow in our intimacy with Jesus, and gradually become more aware of the presence of God living within us by grace. And this divine-indwelling will shine through the flesh of our lives, and draw others to seek and experience the living God.