ColumnsNaming Grace

Listen to him

Two years ago, we experienced a nail-biting, knuckle-gripping ride to the top of Pike’s Peak. Without guardrails, our driver was sweating bullets, while I silently prayed a rosary. As we reached the peak at over 14,000 feet, we were disappointed as clouds blanketed our view and mist surrounded us. But, for a moment, the clouds parted and we glimpsed the vast horizon—I swear we could see Kansas!

This Sunday’s readings grant us a rare glimpse of the bigger picture, the greater reality, the infinite horizon of life—the life of faith in Jesus Christ. On the high mountain, Jesus is transfigured, permitting Peter, James and John to witness Jesus in his full glory—fully human, fully divine. They see the reality of Jesus as the Father’s beloved Son and the fulfillment of all the prophets and the law.

According to Pope Francis, “The Gospel offers us the chance to live life on a higher plane” (“The Joy of the Gospel,” n. 10). Through the eyes of faith, each experience, each created thing, each person, and each thought and action reveals something beyond. The clouds part and we catch glimpses of God’s holy presence. As Ignatian spirituality asserts, “God is in all things.” But only for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.

Seeing God’s presence depends upon listening to Jesus. Like Peter, James and John, we are instructed specifically to “listen to him.” Listening to Jesus hushes the clamoring voices of the world and the negative thoughts of our own minds, opening our hearts to the soft, still, voice of the Spirit. Through prayerful silence, what lies on the surface parts and the deeper spiritual reality is revealed. A mountaintop viewed from a distance seems void of life, yet with a closer look we notice a rock cracks, and a bud emerges. We see things as they really are—according to God’s vision:

“The mind clears, and a path is revealed.

Scripture falls open, and a verse is given.

A heart breaks, and compassion pours forth.”

As parents/grandparents, we name grace—God’s guiding presence—by teaching our children to listen to Jesus—and him alone: lying on blankets together while watching cloud formations and listening to Jesus in the breeze; praying together at bedtime, petitioning for Jesus’ care and spending a few moments in silence; taking our children—no matter how young—to church or eucharistic adoration to spend a little time listening to God’s voice. We name grace by encouraging our children to see beyond: though Jesus sometimes seems far away, he is with us always.

Through prayer, God speaks over and over, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” Get up and move through the day without fear, knowing of God’s presence—no matter how foggy. Though desiring to stay on the mountaintop, Peter, James and John must descend and head toward Jerusalem, where Jesus will be crucified. We too will face many challenging and difficult days, but will be strengthened, if we but listen to Him.

After viewing God’s incredible beauty from Pike’s Peak, we took a deep breath and climbed back into the car. The trip down was just as treacherous, yet the beauty glimpsed from the top created an inner calm. With Jesus beside us, we have nothing to fear. He is with us from the mountaintop, to the plane, to the cross—until the end of the ages. Now, that’s good news!

When have you glimpsed a deeper reality?

How will you help your children listen to Jesus?