Second Sunday of Lent - 12th March, 2017

Liturgical Reflection

Matthew 17:1-9

Listen to him

When Jesus is baptised in the River Jordan, a voice comes from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Mt 3:17) This moment of direct revelation from heaven prompts a more intensive preparation of the apostles for the events that were to overtake Jesus. So when today’s Gospel begins: “Six days later”, one wants to go back and read what had in fact happened six days before this.


In the preceding chapter, Jesus warns his followers of his forthcoming suffering, death but also his rising. Peter rebukes Jesus, declaring, “This must never happen to you,” and is himself strongly rebuked by Jesus who says to him, “Get behind me, Satan.” So when the account chosen as today’s reading again quotes the voice from heaven, ending, “Listen to him”, we see these words aimed at Peter in a special way.

But let us beware evasion! The voice from heaven is addressed to us no less than to Peter. And where are we to hear the words of Jesus? In the scriptures, we will say without hesitation, and so we will. The documents of Vatican II do however list several other modes of Jesus’s presence, modes through which Jesus speaks to us through other persons or actions. The Instruction on the Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery, to cite just one mention, states that in addition to His being present in the Word, Jesus is also present:

  • In the person of his minister
  • in the Eucharistic Species
  • when the Church prays and sings
  • in an assembly of the faithful gathered in his name (“Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”)

This might need careful unpacking, but it behoves us to pay attention to any preaching, to our reception of the Eucharist, to the texts of readings, hymns and prayers, and, dare we say it, to the words of one another when we are gathered in Christ’s name.

A final thought: It was said of our Father Dominic, that he spoke only to God or of God. Were we to be more aware of these several modes of Christ’s presence, it would surely help us to emulate our holy Father Dominic in his practice of prayer.

Sr Helen Ryan OP