Today’s Gospel, in which we hear Luke’s Transfiguration, says many important things – as do all of the Gospels. Remember, a word is never wasted in Scripture! But for today, I want to focus on this one point.
“This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”
Lately, I am pretty certain that we are not listening, and I am as guilty as anyone. As a big proponent of social media in both my personal and ministerial lives, I am often out there. Trust me, I do try to be charitable – emphasis, try. I can think of one person I seriously offended recently, and that was completely unintentional. I can only imagine others who may not have spoken up.
Yesterday was an ugly free for all out in the Twitterverse. Now Facebook is one thing, and while it can get ugly, I find Twitter to have a sharper, crueler edge when it gets mean. And yesterday, it was very mean. Between a certain presidential candidate who suggested (with gazillions of retweets of his message) that the sitting president would have attended Justice Scalia’s funeral if it had been held in a mosque, and then the on-going firestorm about what the pope *never* said about that candidate, things were hopping out there.
Allow me to be very clear, I was not a fan of Justice Scalia during his time on the court. Having said that, I do not find it necessary to speak out against him in death. I am not pretending to be nice, God is surely aware of my thoughts and feelings, but in death we have the chance to be reunited with God. Not to mention the mourning of his loved ones who lost him without warning, and when he was away from home. Between all the nastiness over Obama’s absence and the ugliness of of that other man’s (I am not going to mention his name) tweets, I felt complete despair.
Frankly, a smarter person than me would have followed Jesus as found in Luke’s Gospel for today. Remember, this is how the Gospel opens: “Jesus took Peter, John, and James
and went up the mountain to pray.” Following Jesus into the silence in order to pray would have been much wiser than following the disenfranchised rage of Twitter.
However, I did not choose wisely, so I read a bunch of tweets and I even posted one myself. It said:
Feeling despair over many hateful tweets found under
#ScaliaFuneral. God have mercy. Today’s Gospel “But I say to you, love your enemies.”
Needless to say, I received some feedback. The interesting thing was that the majority of consoling feedback came from more conservative voices, perhaps even from those who support the candidate I will not name by name today. Even more interesting, and absolutely upsetting was that most of the mean tweets came from my more liberal and progressive compatriots.
While I get that people feel anger towards Scalia’s time on the bench and that in some cases their lives were directly impacted by his decisions, I can’t abide by the ugly nature of it all. Frankly, I think that Citizens United was the worst decision of the court in my memory. Despite Scalia’s positions and rulings, so many of which seemed pointed away from the Gospel, here is the real game changer… I have no clue what was in his heart. Only God knows that. Not to mention that we have until our last breath to fully turn to God and say yes, so who knows what happened at that moment? Yes, only God knows.
So what does that have to do with today’s Gospel. We may wish to blame individuals, political parties, the super rich who find ways (thank you Citizens United) to donate unimaginable sums of money to topple candidates they do not like, and all manner of things. There is blame there, and plenty to go around.
But yet here we are. We too are called to go up the mountain and pray with Jesus. Do we head up there or do we say we are too busy? There is work to be done, maybe you just wanted an extra hour of sleep, or the kids have sports on Sunday, or maybe just too busy scurrying around the social media universe? We are invited to go up onto the mountain to pray, to find that quiet place with Christ. And when we do this we are told by God that we should listen to Christ.
Are we listening? It does not seem that we are, that includes me. I’m trying to listen, but there are distractions and I let myself be distracted. Here’s an invitation to all of you, from me. I’m pretty desperate to be upon the mountain with Jesus, finding time and silence in which to pray. My invitation is this – I invite you, I ask you, I beg you to please pray for me to be in that silent way and to truly listen. That might mean no blogging for a few days. (quelle horreur!) or other social media. It might mean avoiding an argument with my spouse, my friend, my stepdaughter, or a coworker.
Maybe praying for a trip to the mountain is – pardon the pun – too lofty a request. Then I ask for you to pray for me to be aware of that tiny pause, that little space of infinity where I stop to listen. It is barely a second, it is almost imperceptible. In that pause is the place of the listening, which means maybe not reacting.
And here is the deal, as you pray for me for this, so I pray for you. Is this something we can do together? Because if not I am truly worried. This is God’s chosen son, God asks us to listen to him? Are we listening? I’m pretty certain that we are not. Can we begin right now?