Sunday 23 February 2020

Bible Book:

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, ‘Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.’ (v. 9)

Matthew 17:1-9 Sunday 23 February 2020

Psalm: Psalm 99


Often we might think that climbing up the mountain is the challenging part. But pilgrims who visit Mount Tabor in Israel, the traditional site of the Transfiguration, soon realise that "coming down the mountain" is just as frightening and just as important to get right! Mount Tabor’s winding roads and sharp bends take skilful negotiation as the drivers of the small minibuses speed weary pilgrims back to their coaches and on to their next destination. Likewise, in this passage, Jesus uses the journey down the mountain to make an important point, asking his beloved disciples to keep their experience on the mountain to themselves for the time being.

When we hear a good story or experience something that is difficult to understand, we want to rush to tell everyone we know. So today we often choose to share it on social media and follow how much interaction we receive as a result. But in this rush to share I wonder if we lose something about the importance of truly listening and reflecting. Henri Nouwen, the Catholic theologian, once said: “Listening is much more than allowing another to talk while waiting for a chance to respond.” So when God commanded Peter, James and John to ‘listen’ to Jesus and when Jesus ordered them not to tell anyone of their experience of the mountain, the disciples were being called to lay aside themselves, to open up to the experience and to learn anew from their encounter with Jesus and with God.

There is something here for us: as we contend with a public debate that is polarised and fractious, when we encounter those who are different from us and who have stories to tell, and if we sometimes simply do not know what to do with an experience which surprises or unsettles us, we can take time to listen. As we travel down from the mountain we should give ourselves the time to reflect on our experiences and our encounters. For in not rushing to judge or conclude or even necessarily to share, we might find something new about God which might just get us through the next stage of our journey.


To Ponder:

  • What experiences have you had that you have taken a long time to reflect on and to understand their true significance?
  • What things do we need to listen to in order to be better neighbours?
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