Take a Moment, Bend a Knee, and Listen
For this and other Homilies and articles, please see Deacon Jeff Sutterman’s website, www.joyoftheword.org
I. The mystery of reading
a. Something wonderful happens when we read
b. A great author like Herman Melville can lift us out of our comfortable 21st Century Frederick home
c. And transform us into 19th Century New England sailors under the command of
d. Pursuing the elusive whale Moby Dick aboard the Pequod
e. I learned more about whaling than I ever thought I would want to know reading Melville
f. I also talked like a sailor and walked with a limp for a week after finishing Moby Dick
g. A good book will do that to you….
II. Educators refer to the type of reading that involves your full attention and imagination, “deep reading”
a. Deep reading a classic can change you, your mindset, make you cry, make you laugh
b. Consider The Adventures of Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer
c. Punished for skipping school, Tom is made to paint his aunt’s picket fence on a Saturday
d. Tom convinces his friends his tedious chore is actually great fun, and tricks his schoolmates into paying him for the “privilege” of doing his work for him!
e. I wish we could turn the camera around – some of you are smiling!
III. Think of the mystery of that! And I mean it literally!
a. A man who lived 150 years ago, writes down a humorous story about his childhood on the Mississippi River in Missouri, and it affects us, here on the East Coast, in the year 2020.
b. Mark Twain’s thoughts 150 years ago, affects us now, and makes us smile here, today
c. A good book and deep reading can do that to you… it can take you to places you cannot go alone, and lift your spirit, transform your heart.
IV. But you have to take time to read.
a. If you are unfamiliar with these classics, put your smart phone down and get reading!
b. Mark Twain warns us:
c. “A person who knows how to read and chooses not to, is no better off than the person who never learned to read.”
V. Deep reading is a lot like Prayer
a. But for every bit as wonderful and mysterious as deep reading is,
b. Deep prayer is miraculous and sacred
c. Prayer takes us to places we cannot go alone, and transforms our heart in ways divine
d. In the silence of prayer we are lifted up and placed in the loving embrace of the Trinity,
e. And Christ Himself transforms us, aligns our will to His, and our hearts, the center of our character, to His.
f. In this Season of Lent, Christ is calling all sinners, calling us, to spend time in deep prayer.
g. But we must make time to pray
h. The invitation to pray is a gift beyond words.
i. But we could say with Mark Twain:
j. “A disciple called to pray, but chooses not to is no better off than the person who never prays.”
VI. Take a look again at today’s Gospel, a Gospel in part about prayer. Only this time place yourself in it.
a. You are sound asleep under a starry sky, warm and comfortable by the embers of last night’s fire, using our cloak for a blanket
b. Jesus shakes your shoulder, telling you to wake up, but you roll to your side to sleep
c. Jesus wakes you again, and calls to you to, “Follow me.”
d. Soon you are up, with Peter, James, and John, and walking with Jesus in the cold, still pre-dawn air. Your feet a soaked with dew.
e. Jesus leads you up a mountain path. You ascend with Him with His help toward the top, along with Peter, James, and John
f. You arrive at the top in quiet, the dawn is just breaking over the horizon.
VII. This is happening now…. Right here in our presence
a. Jesus called to you this (evening)(morning) took you by the hand, and led you here, to our mountain top.
b. In the Gospel Moses and Elijah, representing the Law and the Prophets, the Promise and the Guides to the Covenant respectively, appear to Peter, James, and John
c. Just as we are reminded of God’s Covenant, here, now, in our First Reading from Genesis.
d. Jesus is transfigured before them! Like the burning bush Moses encounters that is on fire but is not consumed,
e. Jesus’ divinity shines through and glorifies His humanity, but does not consume it.
f. In a few moments, the Risen Christ will be transfigured in our presence.
g. Christ will take ordinary bread, and fill it with His Divinity, transforming it into His body, without consuming or destroying the bread
h. And as we receive the Bread, we too are transfigured, Christ fills and glorifies us with His Divinity, without consuming or destroying our humanity.
VIII. But I have left out my favorite part of the Gospel: Peter
a. In the Gospels, Mary shows us how we ought to be, but Peter shows us how we really are.
b. In the moment of this deep, sublime prayer on the mountain
c. With Moses, Elijah, and Jesus in His Glory before him
d. What does Peter do? He starts talking!
e. He starts with a little praise, “It’s so good to be me right now!” and proceeds to tell God his plans for the day, “I’m going to build tents . . . !”
f. And what happens? Matthew is gentle with our first Pope
g. But literally in mid-sentence, “while Peter was still speaking,” God interrupts him! Can you imagine?
h. “Peter, I formed you and I love you, you are the Rock, buuuuuut my own beloved son is transfigured in Glory before you!”
i. “You need to stop talking, and LISTEN!”
IX. Yet we all do this, or are tempted to do this, in prayer
a. We might start with a little praise, then off we go telling God our plans, asking His help for what we think is important, praying intercessions for what we think should be important to God.
b. It’s as if we are handed a book by Melville or Twain, and the first thing we do is write over the page with our own story.
c. That makes no sense, yet we all do it in prayer!
d. First, in silence, we must listen to Christ
e. As Jesus told us in the Gospel on Ash Wednesday
f. When we pray we are to go to our inner room and pray in secret
g. And avoid too many words, for our Father already knows what we need before we ask.
h. If that’s the case, prayer isn’t about the asking, it’s about turning to God, conforming our heart
i. It’s about lifting us to a place we cannot go alone, and transfiguring our mind and heart.
j. Allow the Risen Christ to take us by the hand, place his arm around us, and guide us up the mountain to the Father,
k. And, through the Holy Spirit, align our minds, our wills, and our hearts with His
l. To enter into the silence of deep prayer, to allow Christ to transfigure us, to change our hearts,
m. To think as Jesus thinks, to love as Jesus loves
n. and then we will know how to pray.
X. In a moment, we will receive Christ Glorified and present in our Eucharist
a. After you have received, take a moment, bend a knee, and listen to Him
b. Listen to the music, reflect on our prayers and readings today, or the people around you…
c. Christ, truly present in the Eucharist, is truly present in you
d. Take a moment, bend a knee, and, in silence, listen to Him.
XI. And tomorrow, Monday morning, when Christ nudges you awake from your sleep
a. You will be tempted to rush into your plans for the day
b. You will be tempted to tell Christ for what you think is important, what you need for the day
c. In the rush of your morning routine, remember the sound of our shofar, that Christ is calling you,
d. Take a moment, bend a knee, and listen to Him
e. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday . . . . Each and every day Every hour of the day It’s the perfect time to pray So….Take a moment, bend a knee and …….Listen to Him.
Take a Moment, Bend a Knee, and Listen