This week’s Gospel reading is truly one of my favorites as a beautiful depiction of the complexity of humanity. I can chuckle at Peter’s inability to completely grasp the truth even as he stares Jesus, who is perfect truth, in the face. It’s a comfort to hear that I am not the only person who dozes off as they attempt to pray, and it’s humbling to realize that Jesus’ response to imperfection is an invitation to deeper participation in God’s revelation. I can only imagine what it was like standing in the presence of great figures like Moses, Elijah, and Jesus only to be enveloped by the very voice of God. It’s easy to understand why Peter wants to remain in this heavenly moment. This is similar to the times that I have heard others describe their desire to remain in the moments of great grace and love in their own lives, the moment that they exchange the sacred vows of marriage, a beautiful sunset, the first time a parent holds a child in their arms. It is natural to want to freeze these moments, it is even more natural to resist the inevitable change that will occur as the moment passes. However, we know that this impossible. Instead we find ourselves like Peter, challenged to realize that the moments of grace that we receive are never meant to keep us stagnant. They are always to propel us forward to share the Gospel and work towards God’s Kingdom.
Perhaps some of us are feeling a temptation to pitch a tent in the face of the coming transition in our Church. While it is natural for us to feel the anxiety of the unknown, we are urged just like Peter, to move forward with strength and confidence listening to the voice of God. While this at times may be a challenge, we have all been gifted a beautiful example of faithfulness and courage in our current successor to Peter, Pope Benedict. His openness to the Spirit is giving him the strength to do something that till this time was practically unheard of. He is accepting the humble limitations of the human person in the face of the great requirements of his office, the supreme servant to the servants of God. He reminds us that our true vocation as the Body of Christ is to listen diligently to the Word of God, and to trust the many ways that this Word speaks into our hearts.
In the days that lie ahead, days that may be filled with anxiety, excitement and anticipation, let us all remember that first and foremost these days should be filled with prayer and a confident reliance upon the Spirit. We pray for our Holy Father Benedict, for all the cardinal electors, and for the entire Church that we may follow the gentle guidance of the Spirit. We pray that we will all recognize the call to come down from the mountain, into the chaotic reality of the world to follow the example of Benedict XVI and take our place as humble servants of the Gospel.