The majority of us would have been left speechless—but not Peter. St. Peter had plenty to say. He would have blended right in with the cell phone users who love to take “selfies”. St. Peter wanted to capture the moment, not to mention the thought of future revenue from the shrines built on the holy spot—one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. Guess what, there is a Church of the Transfiguration on top of the mountain—a high mountain indeed called Mount Tabor. Buses take the pilgrims up most of the way to the breath-taking site. Peter could not have known what was going to happen, he just wanted to hold the memory. Most of us want to do the same when we are fascinated by something. Yet, in the fascination, in trying to stop the clock, in allowing our emotions to take control we miss out on the beauty of the moment. Great number of us have forgotten how to appreciate the moment—to live in the “now”. The past haunts us, the future worries us, and the present is often ignored. The beauty of this moment will never pass again—even if we are videotaping. We have become very distracted creatures. Even animals can give us lessons on concentration. They seem to have a better appreciation of the moment—they know how to focus. Since animals do not sin, they are not bothered with guilt, much less about worries concerning the future. Perhaps that’s one reason animals, especially dogs, are brought to nursing homes and can give comfort to the residents because they know how to appreciate the person in front of them.
Not really fair for us to make judgment calls on poor St. Peter who must have been shaking in his sandals. But we can imagine that he was quite excited. He gave all the signals of wanting to take charge—of wanting to control the situation. Took the voice of God to shut him up. “Listen!” Modern translation: “Shut your mouth and listen to my Son.” Frankly, that message has still not made it to the 21st century. Now more than ever we have trouble shutting our mouths and just listening. If that were not the case then we would have more people in Adoration.
Who wants to just be quiet and listen? Who wants to just come and waste time with the Lord? Listening is not as exciting as doing something—accomplishing something—building something. If all we do is listen, what can we show in the end? How can listening be measured? The art of listening is practiced less and less—even in families—where folks shout at each other. Picture the scene of a typical family: Father in one room watching TV, Mother in another room with her TV, children each with a computer, I Pad, or video game. Homework, football, school projects—who’s got time to just sit and talk? Who’s got time to listen? Wonder why so many families are falling apart. Certainly part of the problem is a lack of communication. Spending time with each other can have lasting consequences. That’s how the Transfiguration started out—just spending time with each other—and look at what happened. Time invested in the family is worth more than all the money in the bank. Those with children better wake up to the fact that time flies—turn around and the children are grown. The results of broken families are all too obvious in the violence seen at schools, on the streets and in the repeated cycles of divorce. Time to shut our mouths and listen.
We are not in control—God is. The Lord still has plenty to say. The loudest message not yet heard is that we are loved without conditions.